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BOUGHT WITH THE INCOME 
FROM THE 

SAGE ENDOWMENT FUND 

THE GIFT OF 

Henrg M. Sage 

1891 



S901 



Cornell University Library 
HD9551.6 .J58 1906 

The coal question: 



olln 



3 1924 030 105 294 



THE COAL QUESTION 



THE 

COAL QUESTION 

An Inquiry Concerning the Progress of the 

Nation, and the Probable Exhaustion 

of our Coal-mines 



BY THE LATE 



W. STANLEY JEVONS, M.A., LL.D., F.R.S. 



EDITED BY 



A. W. FLUX, MA. 



SOMETIME FELl-OW OF ST. JOHN S COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE 

WILLIAM DOW PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL ECONOMY IN MCGILL UNIVERSITY, MONTREAL 

FORMERLY STANLEY JEVONS PROFESSOR AND COBDEN LECTUREK IN THE 

OWENS COLLEGE, MANCHESTER 



THIRD EDITION, REVISED 



ILontion 
MACMILLAN AND CO., Limited 

NEW YORK : THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 
1906 

All rights reserved 



Non progredi est regredi. 



" The progressive state is in reality the cheerful and the hearty 
state to all the different orders of the society ; the stationary is 
dull ; the declining melancholy." 

Adam Smith 



First Edition^ 1865 

Second Edition^ Revisea, 1866 

Third Edition, Revised, 1906 



CONTENTS 



EXPLANATION OF PLATES 

PREFACE TO THE THIRD EDITION . . 
PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION . . 

CHAPTER I 
INTRODUCTION AND OUTLINE .... 



PAGE 

.... vii 



CHAPTER II 
OPINIONS OF PREVIOUS WRITERS 1 5 

CHAPTER III 
GEOLOGICAL ASPECTS OF THE QUESTION 40 

CHAPTER IV 
OF THE COST OF COAL MINING 56 

CHAPTER V 
OF THE PRICE OF COAL 79 

CHAPTER VI 
OF BRITISH INVENTION lOO 

CHAPTER VII 
OF THE ECONOMY OF FUEL 1 37 

CHAPTER VIII 
OF SUPPOSED SUBSTITUTES FOR COAL 1 58 



vi CONTENTS 



CHAPTER IX 

PAGE 

OF THE NATURAL LAW OF SOCIAL OROWTH 19^ 



CHAPTER X 
OF THE GROWTH AND MIGRATIONS OF OUR POPULATION . 2C3 

CHAPTER XI 

OF THE CHANGE AND PROGRESS OF OUR INDUSTRY . . 233 

CHAPTER XII 
OF OUR CONSUMPTION OF COAL 261 

CHAPTER XIII 

OF THE EXPORT AND IMPORT OF COAL 285 

CHAPTER XIV 

OF THE COMPARATIVE COAL RESOURCES OF DIFFERENT 

COUNTRIES 320 

CHAPTER XV 

OF THE IRON TRADE 368 

CHAPTER XVI 

PROBLEM OF THE TRADING BODIES 410 

CHAPTER XVII 

OF TAXES AND THE NATIONAL DEBT 437 

CHAPTER XVIII 
CONCLUDING REFLECTIONS 454 

INDEX ... 461 



WW 




Cornell University 
Library 



The original of tiiis book is in 
tine Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 



http://www.archive.org/details/cu31924030105294 



PLATE I. 






POPULATION OF 
ENGLAND AND WALES 



TOTAL IMPORTS 
OFFICIAL VALUE 



/ 



/20 






p, g 

a? 4). 



.£ -S" 



,£5 





^ 
^ 


II- 

3 is 




if" 


fc, 


ise4 


o 



2500 



to 

s 
s 



■T" 



..•z 






T 



VEND OF COAL 
FROM NEWCASTLE 



T 



t 



SUPPOSED OUTPUT 
OF COAL IN BF?ITA1N 



2i 



357" 
'331 .''32 6 



Psst 



lGe-3 

Output (shaded) A 









EXPLANATION OF PLATES 

Plate I of the frontispiece reproduces Jevons' original frontis- 
piece with the following changes : — 

i. The curves of population and of imports are carried on to later 
dates than in the original. 

ii. The progress of the vend of coal from Newcastle is traced at 
decennial intervals between 1800 and 1861. The following data, 
derived from the authority quoted by Jevons (p. 262), for years 
preceding 1845, and, for subsequent years, from the Transactions 
of the North of England Institute 01 Mining Engineers, vol. xii, 
1862-3, p. 169 (see also vol. xv, p. 257), show the total vend at 
intervals of ten years. 

VEND OF COAL FROM NEWCASTLE (see also p. 262) 



Year 


Tons 


Year 


Tons 


1810 
1820 
1830 


2,834,326 
3,403,225 
3,630,303 


1840 
1850 
1861 


5,587,384 

8,471,685 

10,527,581 1 



1 Including 162,934 tons sent by rail. 



iii. The curve showing what the output would become if it 
continued to increase at the rate determined by Jevons (p. 272) is 
supplemented by a similar curve showing the results of a continued 
growth at the rate experienced for the last quarter of a century 
(pp. 281-2). As with the former, so with the latter, the results 
show that the rate on which the curve is calculated cannot be 
continued for a long period. 

Plate II is drawn to a logarithmic scale, so that progress 
at a uniform rate is represented by a straight line sloping 
upwards across the page. The figures for foreign countries, for 
and after 1868, are taken from the annual volumes of Mineral 
Statistics for the United States. For earlier years various sources 
have been employed, chiefly the Report of the Argyll Commission. 
For the United States the returns previous to 1880 are less 
complete than those for later years. In the earlier years the 



VUl 



EXPLANATION OF PLATES 



anthracite returns represent sales, not output. The figures for the 
first few years of the diagram are based on tables published by the 
U.S. Geological Survey, and on the census return for i860. 

To bring the line relating to the world's output within the 
limits of the page, it has been made to represent one-tenth of the 
entire world's output. To show the whole of the world's output on 
the same scale as the output of individual countries included in the 
diagram, the line would only need to be moved upwards parallel 
to itself through about 3f inches. The line representing British 
exports of coal is based on figures inclusive of bunker coal shipped 
on foreign-going ships. For the years before 1873 the return of 
bunkers is lacking, and an allowance based on the tonnage of 
steam vessels cleared from British ports has been made. 

(For tables of production in different countries, cf. Chap, xiv, 
passim, especially p. 365. For exports, cf. pp. 318-9.) 



PLATE M. 



Mean Dire 
of Lin 



J^ 



ctions y 
es ./ . 

0^ 



Average Increase 
Per cent per annum 
British Exports S 52 
German Output ... 4 ■ 75 
Frencfi Output. ... 4 62 
Belgian Output 3 73 
British Output.. 3 46 



1860-6-^ to 1870-74 



-xt 



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rfl'^ 



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(^ 



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y^ 



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A 






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M 



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l*H 60 



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/ 



Average Increase 
Per cent per annum 

Mean Directions ..-£/- 5 Output 6 21 

of Lines 

, German Output.... 4 53 
^■British Exports. . .4 36 

.-■' y;^^' World's Output 401 

■^^ ^ French Output. . 2 58 
,. British Output. 1 ■ 00 

'. Belgian Output .... I 50 

(679-83 to 1839-1903 




This diagram is drawn on a logarithmic scale, so that a uniform rate of increase per cent from year to year is represented 
by a straight line. A diminishing rate of increase yields a line of decreasing slope, a growing rate one of increasing slope. 
Lines whose directions are parallel represent equal rates of increase, whatever the absolute amounts represented. 



PREFACE TO THE THIRD EDITION 

The extent to which the argument advanced 
by Jevons, in reference to the exhaustibility of 
British coal resources, has been misunderstood, 
is surprising in view of the care which he took 
to make his position clear. The Royal 
Commissions appointed in 1866 and in 1901 
to investigate the question, in spite of the 
careful study which each of them gave to the 
important issues involved, both shared the 
general misunderstanding. In their reports 
Jevons is referred to as calculating that the 
coal consumption of the United Kingdom would 
reach certain very large amounts in the near 
future ; and, a divergence being shown between 
actual experience and what is called his 
prophecy, his argument is discredited. Now 
Jevons himself, in the text of Chapter xii 
(p. 274), took pains to point out that the 
figures set forth (p. 272) are merely a state- 



X PREFACE 

ment of how great the consumption of coal 
would become if the rate of progress shown 
at the time at which he wrote were maintained. 
It is an absolutely fundamental point in his 
argument that that rate could not long be 
maintained, and that the general prosperity 
of the nation must be affected by the inevitable 
reduction of the rate of increase of coal con- 
sumption. Though hesitating to name the 
date at which the reduction would become 
marked, he stated clearly that, in his opinion, 
it could not be as much as a century distant. 
In view of this, the fact that a decreased rate 
of growth became manifest within twenty years 
can hardly be regarded as a disproof of the 
validity of his arguments. 

Some critics have, with great pains, worked 
out the effects of a progressive rate of 
diminution of the annual increase in coal 
output, based on the difference between that 
annual increase as noted by Jevons and as 
revealed by the returns for later years. The 
elaborate tables, printed at length in an ap- 
pendix to the reports of the recent Royal 
Commission, in which Mr. R. Price- Williams 



PREFACE xi 

gave a revised version of tables presented to 
the Commission of 1871, afford an example 
of this. Though calculations on these lines 
appear to be intended as a refutation of the 
arguments of Jevons, they embody, in truth, 
the very error of which their compilers accuse 
Jevons. They are based on the assumption that 
the rates of change observed in tlie recent past 
will continue unaltered into the distant future. 
Though, by the exercise of proper care, the 
reader of these tables can assure himself that 
they are not intended to embody a prophecy, 
but merely to represent what is implied by the 
persistence of existing rates of movement, 
there is little in the tables themselves, or 
in the reflections naturally based on a 
consideration of their results, to compel 
attention to their hypothetical character. Now 
Jevons used his tables to show that the rate of 
growth manifested in them could not be 
maintained for any long period of time. In 
this may be seen the superiority of his method 
over that of his critics. 

The experience of the last thirty years shows 
a rate of progress of the British coal output 



XI 1 



PREFACE 



nearly unchanged, if we base the comparison, 
not on single years, but on broader averages. 
In detail, a decrease of the rate of progress, 
followed by a recovery, is noted. In view of 
this, no attempt is made in the text to set forth 
the results of an assumed progressive rate of 
decrease in the annual addition to output. It 
is shown that, even at the average rate of 
progress manifested in the last quarter of the 
nineteenth century, the annual output would,, 
by the end of the twentieth century, amount 
to some 1,500,000,000 tons. Hence Jevons'' 
argument, that a reduced rate of progress must 
set in before the end of a century from the 
time at which he wrote, may be repeated. 
There is no conflict between this view and that 
set forth in the reports of the recent Royal 
Commission, in spite of the apparent belief of 
the Commissioners that the experience of 
Jevons might serve as a warning to them of 
what to avoid. That the reduction is 
inevitable is clear, though it is submitted that 
the data available do not afford a reliable basis 
for a calculation of the approximate date when 
growth of output will cease. 



PREFACE xiii 

A point to be noted in passing is that the 
Commission reported that the average rate of 
increase of output for the last thirty years 
has been 2^ per cent per annum. This rate 
results from a comparison of individual years 
at the beginning and end of the period in 
question. If we compare the five years 1870- 
74 with the five years 1900-04, the rate of 
increase pet* annum is found to have averaged 
but 2-| per cent over the interval of thirty 
years. The difference between the 2^ per 
cent per annum, reported by the Commission, 
and the rate of 2^ per cent, determined by 
the method named is considerable. A rate of 
progress of 2^ per cent per annum, on the 
output of 1870-74, would have resulted in an 
output for the five years 1900-04 exceeding 
that actually recorded by about 27,000,000 
tons yearly. In the computations of the text, 
and in the frontispiece, the rate of increase 
taken to represent the facts of the recent past 
has been 2 per cent per annum (see p. 281), 
and the second diagram of the frontispiece will 
make it clear how nearly uniform the average 
rate has been, and how indecisive as yet are 



xlv PREFACE 

the indications of a progressive decrease of 
that rate. 

This second diagram brings out also the 
steadiness of the rates of increase of output in 
Germany, France, Belgium, and in the world 
as a whole, as also of British coal exports. In 
the United States, development has progressed 
so rapidly in the last decade that the high rate 
of annual increase in coal production, which 
had prevailed for a dozen years before, has 
undergone acceleration. A study of the 
diagram will show that, in respect to coal 
output, the United Kingdom took the second 
place among the nations in 1899. Should the 
rates of progress recently prevalent be main- 
tained for so long, the diagram further shows 
that even the second place will only be held 
during about two decennia. 

The most important change in the general 
situation, so far as relates to the subject of this 
book, since it was originally written, is the 
development of the coal resources of Germany. 
This has necessitated substantial changes in the 
chapter dealing with the coal resources of differ- 
ent countries, and introduces new considerations 
into the arguments relating to actual and 



PREFACE 



XV" 



prospective foreign competition with British 
industry. The investigations of the last ten 
years have done more than anything 
previously known to demonstrate the solidity 
of the basis on which the German industrial 
fabric is reared on its material side. In the 
text (p. 324 et seq.) reference is made to the 
statements of Herr Oskar Simmersbach on 
this subject, but the material on which those 
statements are based is summarised ift Mn 
Bennett H. Brough's report to the recent 
Royal Commission, printed in Part XI of the 
Appendices to the Final Report. It is in 
collating this information, rather than in calling 
attention to any considerable mass of newly 
ascertained facts, that Herr Simmersbach has 
been led to the remarkable results cited in the 
text. To anyone who shares the views'^ 
expressed by Jevons, on the supreme import- 
ance of coal in relation to industrial development, 
the advance of Germany, like that of the United 
States, will appear to have resulted from the 
natural conditions of the territory occupied by 
an energetic and intelligent race, rather than 
from the conditions created by legislatures. 
In looking forward to the future, and in 



xvi PREFACE 

considering the forecast of the authority cited, 
namely, that Germany is destined to succeed 
to the commercial and industrial inheritance of 
Britain, the great depth at which much of the 
coal included in his estimates lies cannot be 
ignored as a factor in the problem. Apart 
from unproved coalfields, in view of the rates 
of increase of output which now prevail in the 
two countries, it would seem probable that 
the exhaustion of the British deposits will not 
progress much, if at all, more rapidly, in 
relation to their total contents, than will be the 
case with the German coal. Unless the un- 
proved areas are found to yield much larger 
quantities of good coal, accessible at moderate 
cost, in Germany than in Great Britain, the 
rise in the cost of coal due to approaching 
exhaustion will proceed pari passu in the two 
countries, even if it be not more rapid there 
than here. In the meantime, however, the 
growing annual output, and the revelation of 
the extensive resources of the German coal 
mines, are matters of the utmost importance to 
the industrial communities of Great Britain. 
Looking beyond these islands to the daughter 



PREFACE 



xvu 



states across the seas, the reported coal re- 
sources of Canada and AustraUa suggest the 
reflection that, even though an increasing cost 
of power in Britain involve the decay here of 
the industries on which our country's great pre- 
ponderance has been based, the mercantile and 
industrial greatness of the British Empire may 
not pass away. The future pictured by Jevons on 
pp. 429 and 430 is one the consideration of which , 
has by so much the greater interest as the con- 
ditions on which its advent depends approach 
nearer to their realisation. 

The discussion of possible substitutes for coal 
as a source of mechanical energy, which occupies 
Chapter viii, has needed but little change or 
addition to the exhaustive treatment given it 
by Jevons. In one direction there does appear 
to be scope for an addition to his discussion, 
namely, in reference to water-power used to 
develop electric energy. Of late years great 
strides have been taken in the utilisation of 
waterfalls and streams in this way. So much, 
in fact, has been done to perfect the appliances 
used that even the most economical of known 
methods of generating electricity by the use 

b 



XVlll 



PREFACE 



of coal in this country fail to reach the low 
level of cost from favourably situated water- 
powers in some other countries. In considering 
the coal resources of various countries, one of 
the two points to which Jevons directed par- 
ticular attention was the possibility of "a system 
of manufacturing industry capable of competing 
with ours" being supported on such coal 
resources (p. 327). Clearly, where cheap power 
can be obtained without the use of coal, the 
lack of coal is not the only matter to which 
attention must be directed. An industry com- 
peting with ours might develop in a country 
whose supplies of coal were scanty if its water- 
powers were sufficiently extensive. The absence 
from the text of any attempt to estimate the 
degree in which, in different countries, water- 
power may supplement or replace coal is due 
in part to the difficulty of obtaining information 
really meeting the needs of the case. So far 
as developments have proceeded up to the 
present, the position appears rather to resemble 
that of the majority of countries in respect to 
coal, to which Jevons applied the words (p. 327) : 
" none are at all capable of competing in quality 



PREFACE 



XIX 



or extent with our coalfields. They will prove 
very useful in furnishing a supply for local 
industry . . . ." The same reasons which per- 
mitted Jevons to pass over these coalfields of 
minor importance must serve as the chief 
justification for omitting any but a passing 
mention of the utilisation of water-power in 
modern times. As regards Great Britain, the 
evidence laid before the recent Royal Com- 
mission showed that the amount of water-power 
from streams, available for the development of 
electric energy, is so small as not to affect 
seriously the question of coal consumption. 
Other countries may find — are finding — in their 
water-powers a useful and effective substitute 
for coal. Thus there is afforded a forcible 
illustration of the reflection of Jevons (p. i88) 
that the advantage possessed by Great Britain 
in her abundant coal-deposits does not extend 
to other possible sources of power. 

Much attention was devoted by the recent 
Royal Commission to the possibility of effect- 
ing economies in the consumption of coal, and 
it was shown that very large economies are 
perfectly feasible. In general, however, the 

b 2 



XX PREFACE 

adoption of such economies needs the stimulus 
of a high price for coal. These economies, too, 
are open to our competitors equally with our- 
selves, and thus competition operates to compel 
their adoption in advance of the high prices 
consequent on approaching exhaustion. 

In considering the history of coal production 
during the nineteenth century, the tables of 
Chapter xiv make clear the fact that, not in 
Great Britain alone, but also in neighbouring 
Continental countries, the increase of output pro- 
ceeded with much greater rapidity before 1865 
than it has done since about that date. The 
introduction of the Steam-engine in modern 
industry and transport caused a much more 
rapid growth in fuel production than sufficed 
for the maintenance of steam-driven industry 
when once coal had been established as the 
general source of power. It follows that the 
transition, from progress in coal production at 
the rate of 3^ per cent, per annum to progress 
at the rate of 2 per cent, per annum, is not 
necessarily the sign of a reduced degree of 
general welfare. But, whether the experience 
of the last quarter of a century be or be not 



PREFACE xxi 

a beginning of that decline in our manufacturing » 
prosperity to which Jevons looked forward in? 
a longer future, the substitution of a slower 
rate of progress, or a stationary output, for 
the actual advance at the rate of 2 per cent, 
per annum, will necessarily mark a check in 
our industrial progress. And that check must 
be experienced in a future not far distant. 
Should we hasten it by placing obstacles in 
the way of the expansion of those industries in. 
which coal plays so important a part? Or 
should we not rather, while pressing as far as 
possible the advantages which are ours in the 
present, prepare for those phases of industrial 
advance which are more suited to a nation 
unprovided with an abundance of cheap coal ? 

The more firmly we are convinced of the ' 
exhaustible nature of the basis of our present 
material prosperity, and of the comparatively 
near approach of the end of the plenty and 
cheapness on which we have flourished, the 
more urgent is the consideration of measures 
aimed at the amelioration of the condition of 
the future inhabitants of these islands. Jevons 
strongly urged the speedy reduction of the 



XXll 



PREFACE 



National Debt. As the lapse of forty years 
sees the Debt swollen once more nearly to the 
dimensions it had in 1865, while the reserves 
of coal have been reduced substantially in the 
interval, what was urgent in 1865 is even more 
urgent to-day. The fact that each generation 
is apt to find its own burdens quite heavy 
enough finds illustration in the renewed growth 
in the National Debt after a long period of 
reduction. The injustice of handing on to our 
descendants a country whose fuel resources 
are seriously impoverished and which is heavily 
burdened with public debt is sufficiently 
manifest. 

In other ways of meeting our obligations 
to our successors somewhat more effective 
progress has been made in the last forty years 
than in the matter of debt redemption. By 
the establishment of a system of public 
education, and by raising the age at which 
children may be legally employed in industry, 
something has been done towards meeting 
those obligations. These measures, urged in 
the preface to the second edition, have been 
embodied in legislation. But these achieve- 



PREFACE 



XXUl 



ments fall far short of what the situation 
demands. The renewed consideration of the case 
urged by Jevons should serve to stimulate to 
further action along the lines indicated by him. 

It remains to state the general scheme of 
revision of the text which has been followed 
in preparing this new edition. To attempt to 
rewrite the book, preserving its method and 
spirit, but taking account of the knowledge 
accumulated in the forty years since its original 
issue, was clearly undesirable. To reprint the 
text as it was, using footnotes and appendices 
to supply pertinent information of later date 
than the text, was a possible plan, but one 
which would have demanded a constant, and 
often unnecessary, effort on the part of the 
reader. In selecting a course intermediate 
between these two, the editor has sought to 
preserve the text unaltered as far as might 
conveniently be done, while relieving the 
reader, as far as possible, from the necessity 
of the constant vigilance needed to remember 
that the standpoint is that of forty years ago. 

In Chapters ii to ix, a few verbal 



XXIV 



PREFACE 



alterations, together with some footnotes, and 
notes at the end of Chapters ii and v, have 
been judged sufficient for the purpose indicated, 
while the references to Mr. Vivian's mode of 
estimating the resources of the South Wales 
coal area have been omitted from Chapter ii. 

In Chapter x and the first part of the 
following chapter, the tables of population, etc., 
have been continued to date in the text, rather 
than break them into two parts, one in the text, 
the other in footnotes. 

Chapter xiii has been changed but slightly, 
except in one point, namely, the statistical 
study of freight rates. On pp. 266-71 of the 
second edition an admirable study of the 
freight market of forty years ago is given. In 
view of the revolutionary changes which have 
occurred in the general and comparative levels 
of ocean freights, it has been reluctantly omitted 
from this edition. 

In Chapters xiv and xv a considerable 
amount of reconstruction and some addition 
was unavoidable. It has been made with as 
little change of the original text as seemed 
consistent with a reasonable statement of the 



PREFACE XXV 

facts now known.. Where an opinion, such 
as that relating to Belgium's possible 
competition with Great Britain (p. 337), seemed 
to be such that the later developments might 
have left the author's view unchanged, the 
editor has not considered himself at liberty to 
alter it, even though, in some cases, he may 
not share it. 

The first chapter forms practically the 
author's preface to the first edition, in which 
the numbering of chapters began with what 
became Chapter ii in the second edition. It 
has, consequently, been left with but trivial 
changes in phraseology, just as the preface to 
the second edition has been reprinted without 
change. In reading both, it must be 
remembered that the situation dealt with is 
that presented at the time at which Jevons 
wrote them. 

A second case in which it has been judged 
advisable to make no attempt to revise the 
text is that of the latter part of Chapter xi 
and the whole of Chapter xii, in which the 
rate of progress of industry and of coal- 
consumption is treated. More ample informa- 



xxvi PREFACE 

tion than was available to Jevons is now at 
our disposal, but the data he used are repeated 
in the text, later figures being set forth in a 
note at the end of Chapter xii. 

The "Problem of the Trading Bodies," 
treated in Chapter xvi, has also been re- 
produced without change. As it stands it is 
easy to take exception to the position assigned 
to Germany. The nature of the argument is 
not essentially altered by admitting the industrial 
development of Germany, as well as of the 
United States, as a factor of the first import- 
ance in the problem. No revision of the 
argument, so as to fit it to the conditions 
existing at the present time, could have made 
up for the loss to the student which would 
have been involved in discarding Jevons' 
masterly exposition of the subject. 

In like manner the following chapter on 
" Taxes and the National Debt " has been 
repeated without modification, while the final 
chapter needed no other revision than that 
which it had received at Jevons' own hands. 

Additions and changes made in the text by 
the editor are marked by square brackets, thus 



PREFACE xxvii 

[ J, except in the case of quite trivial verbal 
alterations. No such mark has been deemed 
necessary to distinguish footnotes added to 
those of the original version. These latter 
being almost exclusively references, and the 
references added being rarely to works of a 
date such as could have appeared in the second 
edition, confusion between original and added 
matter is unlikely to arise. The notes given 
as appendices to some of the chapters needed 
no mark to distinguish them from the author's 
text. 

In all changes, the purpose in view has been' 
the reproduction of Jevons' book, with the 
additional information necessary to adapt it for 
use in reference to the current situation, and 
with the least change consistent with that 
general aim. 

A copy of the volume, on the margins of 
which Jevons had begun the work of revision, 
was found by Mrs. Jevons. Unfortunately 
this copy contained no indication of any plan 
of rewriting, the revision being confined to 
verbal changes, and only extending to Chap, vi 
pp. 100-104, Chap, viii pp. 158-160, Chap, ix 



XXVIU 



PREFACE 



and Chap, xviii. The changes indicated have, of 
course, been embodied in this edition. It is a 
matter for great regret that the author's revision 
did not extend to those chapters which have 
undergone most change in the present edition. 

The evidence taken by the Royal Commission 
on Coal Supplies has been of a value which 
it would be hard to overestimate in the pre- 
paration of this edition. To Mr. H. Stanley 
Jevons, who has kindly read the proofs, and to 
colleagues who have aided me by directing me 
to sources of needed information, I desire to 
express my indebtedness and my gratitude. 
I trust that the course followed in the arrange- 
ment of matter in this edition will commend 
itself to the numerous admirers of the book 
and of its author 

A. W. FLUX. 

January, 1906 



PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION 

I AM desirous of prefixing to the second edition 
of the following work a few explanations which 
may tend to prevent misapprehension of its pur- 
pose and conclusions. 

The expression " exhaustion of our coal mines " 
states the subject in the briefest form, but is 
sure to convey erroneous notions to those who 
do not reflect upon the long series of changes 
in our industrial condition which must result 
from the gradual deepening of our coal mines 
and the increased price of fuel. Many persons 
perhaps entertain a vague notion that some day 
our coal seams will be found emptied to the 
bottom, and swept clean like a coal-cellar. Our 
fires and furnaces, they think, will then be 
suddenly extinguished, and cold and darkness 
will be left to reign over a depopulated country. 
It is almost needless to say, however, that our 



XXX 



PREFACE 



mines are literally inexhaustible. We cannot 
get to the bottom of them ; and though we may 
some day have to pay dear for fuel, it will 
never be positively wanting. 

I have occasionally spoken in the following 
pages of "the end," of the "instability of our 
position," and so forth. When considered in 
connection with the context, or with expres- 
sions and qualifications in other parts of the 
volume, it will be obvious that I mean not the 
end or overturn of the nation, but the end 
of the present progressive condition of the 
kingdom. If there be a few expressions which 
go beyond this, I should regard them as specu- 
lative only, and should not maintain them as 
an essential part of the conclusions. 

Renewed reflection has convinced me that 
my main position is only too strong and true. 
It is simply that we cannot long progress as 
we are now doing. I give the usual scientific 
reasons for supposing that coal must confer 
mighty influence and advantages upon its rich 
possessor, and I show that we now use much 
more of this invaluable aid than all other coun- 
tries put together. But it is impossible we 



PREFACE 



XXXI 



should long maintain so singular a position ; 
not only must we meet some limit within our 
own country, but we must witness the coal 
produce of other countries approximating to our 
own, and ultimately passing it. 

At a future time, then, we shall have influ- 
ences acting against us which are now acting 
strongly with us. We may even then retain 
no inconsiderable share of the world's trade, 
but it is impossible that we should go on 
expanding as we are now doing. Our motion 
must be reduced to rest, and it is to this change 
my attention is directed. How long we may 
exist in a stationary condition I, for one, should 
never attempt to conjecture. The question here 
treated regards the length of time that we may 
go on rising, and the height of prosperity and 
wealth to which we may attain. Few will 
doubt, I think, after examining the subject, that 
we cannot long rise as we are now doing. 

Even when the question is thus narrowed I 
know there will be no want of opponents. 
Some rather hasty thinkers will at once cut 
the ground from under me, and say that they 
never supposed we should long progress as we 



XXXll 



PREFACE 



are doing, nor do they desire it. I would make 
two remarks in answer. 

Firstly, have they taken time to think what 
is involved in bringing a great and growing 
nation to a stand ? It is easy to set a boulder 
rolling on the mountain-side ; it is perilous to 
try to stop it. It is just such an adverse change 
in the rate of progress of a nation which is 
galling and perilous. Since we began to deve- 
lop the general use of coal, about a century 
ago, we have become accustomed to an almost 
yearly expansion of trade and employment. 
Within the last twenty years everything has 
tended to intensify our prosperity, and the 
results are seen in the extraordinary facts con- 
cerning the prevalence of marriage, which I 
have explained in pp. 222 — 225, and to which 
I should wish to draw special attention. It 
is not difficult to see, then, that we must either 
maintain the expansion of our trade and em- 
ployment, or else witness a sore pressure of 
population and a great exodus of our people. 

The fact is, that many of my opponents simply 
concede the point I am endeavouring to prove 
without foreseeing the results, and without 



PREFACE xxxiii 

again, giving any reasons in support of their 
position. 

Secondly, I do not know why this nation 
should not go on rising to a pitch of greatness 
as inconceivable now as our present position 
would have been inconceivable a century ago. I 
believe that our industrial and political genius 
and energy, used with honesty, are equal to any- 
thing. It is only our gross material resources 
which are limited. Here is a definite cause why 
we cannot always advance. 

Other opponents bring a more subtle objec- 
tion. They say that the coal we use affords no 
measure of our industry. At a future time, 
instead of exporting coal, or crude iron, we 
may produce elaborate and artistic commodities 
depending less on the use of coal than the skill 
and taste of the workman. This change is one 
which I anticipated (see p. 429). It would con- 
stitute a radical change in our industry. We 
have no peculiar monopoly in art, and skill, and 
science as we now have in coal. That by art 
and handicraft manufactures we might maintain 
a moderate trade is not to be denied, but all 
notions of manufacturing and maritime supre- 



xxxiv PREFACE 

macy must then be relinquished. Those persons 
very much mistake the power of coal, and steam, 
and iron, who think that it is now fully felt and 
exhibited ; it will be almost indefinitely greater 
in future years than it now is. Science points 
to this conclusion, and common observation con- 
firms it. These opponents, then, likewise concede 
what I am trying to show, without feeling how 
much they concede. They do not seem to know 
which is the sharp edge of the argument. 

A further class of opponents feel the growing 
power of coal, but repose upon the notion that 
economy in its use will rescue us. If coal be- 
come twice as dear as it is, but our engines are 
made to produce twice as much result with the 
same coal, the cost of steam-power will remain as 
before. These opponents, however, overlook two 
prime points of the subject. They forget that 
economy of fuel leads to a great increase of 
consumption, as shown in the chapter on the 
subject ; and, secondly, they forget that other 
nations can use improved engines as well as our- 
selves, so that our comparative position will not 
be much improved. 

It is true that where fuel is cheap it is wasted, 



PREFACE XXXV 

and where it is dear it is economised. The finest 
engines are those in Cornwall, or in steam-vessels 
plying in distant parts of the ocean. It is credibly 
stated, too, that a manufacturer often spends no 
more in fuel where it is dear than where it is cheap. 
But persons will commit a great oversight here 
if they overlook the cost of an improved and 
complicated engine, which both in its first cost, 
and its maintenance, is higher than that of a 
simple one. The question is one of capital against 
current expenditure. It is well known that nothing 
so presses upon trade as the necessity for a large 
capital expenditure ; it is so much more risked, 
so much more to pay interest on, and so much 
more abstracted from the trading capital. The, 
fact is, that a wasteful engine pays better where 
coals are cheap than a more perfect but costly 
engine. Bourne, in his Treatise on the Steam 
Engine, expressly recommends a simple and 
wasteful engine where coals are cheap. 

The state of the matter is as follows : — Where 
coal is dear, but there are other reasons for re- 
quiring motive power, elaborate engines may be 
profitably used, and may partly reduce the cost of 
the power. 

c 2 



xxxvi PREFACE 

But if coal be dear in one place and cheap in 
another, motive power will necessarily be cheaper 
where coal is cheap, because there the option of 
using either simple or perfect engines is enjoyed. 
It is needless to say that any improvement of the 
engine which does not make it more costly will 
readily be adopted, especially by an enterprising 
and ingenious people like the Americans. 

I take it, therefore, that if there be any strong 
cause exclusive of the possession of coal which 
will tend to keep manufacturers here, economy of 
fuel and a large employment of capital may 
neutralise in some degree the increased cost of 
motive power. But so far as cheap fuel and 
power is the exciting cause of manufactures, 
these must pass to where fuel is cheapest, 
especially when it is in the hands of persons as 
energetic and ingenious as ourselves. 

Finally, I may mention the argument of Mr. 
Vivian, that the art of coal mining will advance 
so that coal may be drawn from great depths 
without any material increase of cost. The very 
moderate rise of price as yet experienced appar- 
ently supports this view, and for my own part 
1 entertain no doubt that a mine might, if 



PREFACE xxxvii 

necessary, be driven to the depth of 5,000 feet. 
The cost at which it must be done, however, is 
quite another matter. The expenditure on the 
shaft increases in a far higher ratio than its 
depth ; the influence of this expenditure is more 
than can be readily estimated, because it is 
risked in the first instance, and in not a few 
cases is wholly lost ; and not only must the 
capital itself be repaid, but considerable amounts 
of compound and simple interest must be met, 
in order that the undertaking shall be profitable. 
Were the depth of mines so slight an incon- 
venience as Mr. Vivian would make it appear, I 
think we should have more deep mines. It is 
now forty years since the Monkwearmouth Pit 
was commenced, and I believe that only one 
deeper pit has since been undertaken, that at 
Dukinfield, seventeen years ago. We cannot 
wonder that there are so few deep pits, when we 
consider that it required twenty years' labour to 
complete the Monkwearmouth Pit, in consequence 
of the serious obstacles encountered (see p. 89). 
The Dukinfield Deep Pit, begun in June, 1849, 
was more fortunate, and reached the expected 
coal at a depth of 2,150 feet in March, 1859. 



xxxviii PREFACE 

Having now candidly mentioned and discussed 
the strongest objections brought against the 
views stated in the following work, I may fairly 
ask the reader that he will treat these views with 
candour, not separating any statement from its 
qualifications and conditions. I have some 
reason to complain that this has not been done 
hitherto. A correspondent of The Times and 
Mining Journal has represented it as a conse- 
quence of my suppositions that there would, in 
1 96 1, be a population of 576 millions of people 
in this country, a statement wholly without 
foundation in the following pages. 

One journal, the (London) Examiner^ has so 
far misrepresented me that the editorial writer, 
after expressly stating that he has read the book 
with care, says : — " Professor Jevons shrinks 
from endorsing the 4,000 feet theory, and stops 
short at 2,500; but why there precisely, rather 
than anywhere else, he does not tell us. All 
we can gather from him on the subject is, that 
when we get to that depth a complete supply of 
foreign coals will come in from Pennsylvania 
and elsewhere." If the above be compared with 

' Examiner, May 19th, 1866. 



PREFACE xxxix 

what I have really said on the subjects on p. 57, 
and in chapter xiii., it will be seen that my state- 
ments are represented as the direct opposite of 
what they are. The whole article is full of 
almost equal misrepresentations. 

I have been surprised to find how far the views 
expressed in some of the following chapters are 
merely an explicit statement of those long enter- 
tained by men of great eminence. The manner/ 
in which Mr. Mill mentioned this work in his 
remarkable speech on the National Debt ^ was in 
the highest degree gratifying. I have found, 
indeed, that most of what I said concerning the 
National Debt was unconsciously derived from 
Mr. Mill's own works. I have repeated it un- 
changed in this edition, with the exception of 
adding references. The fact is that no writer can 
approach the subject of Political Economy with- 
out falling into the deepest obligations to Mr. 
Mill, and it is as impossible as it is needless 
always to specify what we owe to a writer of 
such great eminence, and such wide - spread 
influence. 

Sir John Herschel has most kindly expressed 

1 House of Commons, April 17th, 1866. 



xl PREFACE 

a general concurrence in my views, and has even 
said that this work contained "a mass of con- 
siderations, that as I read them seemed an echo 
of what I have long thought and felt about our 
present commercial progress." 

As regards the supremacy of coal as a source 
of heat and power, and the impossibility of 
finding a substitute, I have again only inter- 
preted the opinions of Professor Tyndall. He has 
kindly allowed me to extract the following from 
a recent letter with which he favoured me : — 

" I see no prospect of any substitute being 
found for coal, as a source of motive power. 
We have, it is true, our winds and streams and 
tides ; and we have the beams of the sun. But 
these are common to all the world. We cannot 
make head against a nation which, in addition to 
those sources of power, possesses the power of 
coal. We may enjoy a multiple of their physical 
and intellectual energy, and still be unable to 
hold our own against a people which possesses 
abundance of coal ; and we should have, in my 
opinion, no chance whatever in a race with a nation 
which, in addition to abundant coal, has energy 
and intelligence approximately equal to our own. 



PREFACE xli 

"It is no new thing for me to affirm in my 
public lectures that the destiny of this nation is 
not in the hands of its statesmen but in those of jl 
its coal-owners ; and that while the orators of 
St. Stephen's are unconscious of the fact, the 
very lifeblood of this country is flowing away." 

And in the following passage Professor Tyndal 
has lately summed up the sources of power : — 

" Wherever two atoms capable of uniting to- 
gether by their mutual attractions exist separ- 
ately, they form a store of potential energy. 
Thus our woods, forests, and coal-fields on the 
one hand, and our atmospheric oxygen on the 
other, constitute a vast store of energy of this 
kind — vast, but far from infinite. We have, 
besides our coal-fields, bodies in the metallic 
condition more or less sparsely distributed in the 
earth's crust. These bodies can be oxydised, and 
hence are, so far as they go, stores of potential 
energy. But the attractions of the great mass of 
the earth's crust are already satisfied, and from 
them no further energy can possibly be obtained. 
Ages ago the elementary constituents of our rocks 
clashed together and produced the motion of 
heat, which was taken up by the ether and 



xlii PREFACE 

carried away through stellar space. It is lost 
for ever as far as we are concerned. In those 
ages the hot conflict of carbon, oxygen, and 
calcium produced the chalk and limestone hills 
which are now cold ; and from this carbon, 
oxygen, and calcium no further energy can be 
derived. And so it is with almost all the other 
constituents of the earth's crust. They took 
their present form in obedience to molecular 
force ; they turned their potential energy into 
dynamic, and gave it to the universe ages before 
man appeared upon this planet. For him a 
residue of power is left, vast truly in relation to 
the life and wants of an individual, but exceed- 
ingly minute in comparison with the earth's 
primitive store." ^ 

I learn from Mr. Hunt that his forthcoming 
report will show the production of coal in the 
United Kingdom in 1865 to be about ninety-five 
millions of tons, giving a considerable increase 
over the great total of 1864. 

I would direct the attention of those who 
think the failure of coal so absurd a notion, and 
who, perhaps, would add that petroleum can 

> Fortnightly Review, Dec. 31, 1865, p. 143. 



PREFACE xl 



111 



take the place of coal when necessary, to the 
results of an inquiry lately undertaken by 
Mr. Hunt concerning an increase of supply of 
cannel coal. He finds, after a minute personal 
and local inquiry, that the present yearly pro- 
duction of 1,418,176 tons might be raised to 
3,172,000 tons should the gas companies demand 
it and offer a sufficient price. But it appears to 
be clear that such a supply could not be main- 
tained for many years. The Wigan cannel is 
estimated to last twenty years at the longest. 
Ten years of the assumed production would ex- 
haust the North Wales cannel, and two autho- 
rities, Mr. Binney and Mr. J. J. Landale, agree 
that the Boghead oil-making coal will not last 
many years. 

It is evident, in short, that the sudden demand 
for the manufacture of petroleum, added to the 
steady and rising demand of the gas works, will 
use up the peculiar and finest beds of oil and 
gas-making coals in a very brief period. 

I have to thank Mr. Robert Hunt not only for 
his kindness in supplying me with a copy of the 
unpublished report containing these facts, but 
also for his readiness in furnishing the latest 



xliv PREFACE 

available information from the Mining Record 
OfiEce. The operations of this most useful insti- 
tution are still crippled, in spite of Mr. Hunt's 
constant exertions, by the want of proper 
power. It was established at the suggestion of 
the British Association, moved by Mr. Thomas 
Sopwith, to preserve the plans of abandoned 
mines in order that the future recovery of 
coal or minerals now left unworked might be 
facilitated, and the danger from irruptions of 
water and foul air from forgotten workings be 
averted. Colliery owners are, indeed, obliged to 
possess plans of their workings, and to exhibit 
them to the Government Inspectors of Mines, 
but they are not obliged to deposit copies in the 
Mining Record Office, on the ground of non- 
interference with vested interests. The deposit 
of plans then being voluntary, very few are re 
ceived, and almost all are lost or destroyed soon 
after the closing of the colliery. Such plans, 
however, are of national importance, like re- 
gisters of births, deaths, and marriages, or wills 
and other records. It is obvious that their de- 
struction should be rendered illegal and penal, 
and that after the closing of a colliery, when the 



PREFACE xlv 

interference with private interests becomes ima- 
ginary, they should be compulsorily deposited in 
the Mining Record Ofifice. It is more than 
twenty years since Mr. Sopwith urged these 
views in his remarkable pamphlet on The 
National Importance of preserving Mining 
Records} Yet our legislation remains as it was 
in truly English fashion. This subject, I hope, 
will now receive proper attention from the 
Royal Commission which is about to be ap- 
pointed to inquire into the subject of our coal 
supply. 

My great obligations to Mr. Hull will be 
clearly seen in several parts of the work. 

I am inclined to think that a careful consider- 
ation of my arguments will show them to be 
less speculative and more practical than appears 
at first sight. I have carefully avoided anything 
like mere romance and speculation. It would be 
romance to picture the New Zealander moralising 
over the ruins of London Bridge, or to imagine 
the time when England will be a mere name in 
history. Some day Britain may be known as 
a second Crete, a sea-born island crowned by 

' See p. 21 infra. The necessary legislation was secured in 1872. 



xlvi PREFACE 

ninety cities. Like the Cretans, we are ruled by 
laws more divine than human ; we teach the use 
of metals, and clear the seas of robbers, and 
exert a mild governance over the coasts and 
islands. We too, like Crete, may form in remote 
history but a brief and half-forgotten link in the 
transmission of the arts from the East towards 
the West — transmission not without improve- 
ment. 

But the subject of the following chapters, 
rightly regarded, seems to me to have an imme- 
diate and practical importance. It brings us face 
to face with duties of the most difficult and 
weighty character — duties which we have too 
long deferred and ignored. So long as future 
generations seemed likely for an indefinite period 
to be more numerous and comparatively richer 
than ourselves, there was some excuse for trusting 
to time for the amelioration of our people. But 
the moment we begin to see a limit to the in- 
crease of our wealth and numbers, we must feel 
a new responsibility. We must begin to allow 
that we can do to-day what we cannot so well do 
to-morrow. It is surely in the moment when 
prosperity is greatest ; when the revenue is ex- 



PREFACE xlvii 

panding most rapidly and spontaneously ; when 
employment is abundant for all, and wages rising, 
and wealth accumulating so that individuals 
hardly know how to expend it — then it is -that an 
effort can best be made, and perhaps only be 
made, to raise the character of the people appreci- 
ably. 

It is a melancholy fact which no Englishman"* 
dare deny or attempt to palliate, that the whole 
structure of our wealth and refined civilisation 
is built upon a basis of ignorance and pauperism 
and vice, into the particulars of which we hardly 
care to inquire. We are not entirely responsible 
for this. It is the consequence of tendencies 
which have operated for centuries past. But we 
are now under a fearful responsibility that, in the 
full fruition of the wealth and power which free 
trade and the lavish use of our resources are 
conferring upon us, we should not omit any prac- 
ticable remedy. If we allow this period to pass 
without far more extensive and systematic exer- 
tions than we are now making, we shall suffer 
just retribution. 

It is not hard to point out what kind of mea- 
sures are here referred to. The ignorance, im- 



xlviii PREFACE 

providence, and brutish drunkenness of our lower 
working classes must be dispelled by a general 
system of education, which may effect for a 
future generation what is hopeless for the present 
generation. One preparatory and indispensable 
measure, however, is a far more general restric- 
tion on the employment of children in manu- 
facture. At present it may almost be said to be 
profitable to breed little slaves and put them to 
labour early, so as to get earnings out of them 
before they have a will of their own. A worse 
premium upon improvidence and future wretched- 
ness could not be imagined. 

Mr. Baker, the Inspector of Factories in South 
Staffordshire, has given a deplorable account of 
the way in which women and children are em- 
ployed in the brick-yards ; and in the South 
Wales ironworks I have myself seen similar 
scenes, which would be incredible if described. 
Dr. Morgan holds that our manufacturing popula- 
tion is becoming degenerate ; and it must be so 
unless, as our manufacturing system grows, corre- 
sponding restrictions are placed upon the employ- 
ment of infant labour. 

It will be said that we cannot deprive parents 



PREFACE xlix 

of their children's earnings. If we cannot do it 
now, we can never 'do it ; and wretched, indeed, 
must be a kingdom which depends for subsist- 
ence upon infant labour. But we can do it to 
the ultimate advantage of all, and we are bound 
to do it from regard to the children themselves : 
and anything which we may lose or spend now 
in education and loss of labour will be repaid 
many times over by the increased efficiency of 
labour in the next generation. 

Reflection will show that we ought not to think' 
of interfering with the free use of the material 
wealth which Providence has placed at our dis- 
posal, but that our duties wholly consist in the 
earnest and wise application of it. We may 
spend it on the one hand in increased luxury 
and ostentation and corruption, and we shall be 
blamed. We may spend it on the other hand 
in raising the social and moral condition of the 
people, and in reducing the burdens of future 
generations. Even if our successors be less 
happily placed than ourselves they will not then 
blame us. 

To some it might seem that no good can come 
from contemplating the weakness of our national 



1 PREFACE 

position. Discouragement and loss of prestige 
could alone apparently result. But this is a 
very superficial view, and the truth, I trust, is 
far otherwise. Even the habitual contemplation 
of death injures no man of any strength of 
mind. It rather nerves him to think and act 
justly while it is yet day. As a nation we have 
too much put off for the hour what we ought 
to have done at once. We are now in the full 
morning of our national prosperity, and are 
approaching noon. Yet we have hardly begun 
to pay the moral and the social debts to millions 
of our countrymen which we must pay before 
the evening. 



THE COAL QUESTION 



THE COAL QUESTION 

CHAPTER I 

INTRODUCTION AND OUTLINE 

Day by day it becomes more evident that the 
Coal we happily possess in excellent quality and 
abundance is the mainspring of modern material 
civilization. As the source of fire, it is the 
source at once of mechanical motion and of 
chemical change. Accordingly it is the chief 
agent in almost every improvement or discovery 
in the arts which the present age brings forth. 
It is to us indispensable for domestic purposes, 
and it has of late years been found to yield a 
series of organic substances, which puzzle us by 
their complexity, please us by their beautiful 
colours, and serve us by their various utility. 

And as the source especially of steam and iron, 
coal is all powerful. This age has been called 
the Iron Age, and it is true that iron is the 

B 



2 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

material of most great novelties. By its strength, 
endurance, and wide range of qualities, this metal 
is fitted to be the fulcrum and lever of great 
works, while steam is the motive power. But 
coal alone can command in sufficient abundance 
either the iron or the steam ; and coal, therefore, 
commands this age — the Age of Coal. 

Coal in truth stands not beside, but entirely 
above, all other commodities. It is the material 
source of the energy of the country — the universal 
aid — the factor in everything we do. With coal 
almost any feat is possible or easy ; without it 
we are thrown back into the laborious poverty 
of early times. 

With such facts familiarly before us, it can be 
no matter of surprise that year by year we make 
larger draughts upon a material of such myriad 
qualities — of such miraculous powers. But it is 
at the same time impossible that men of fore- 
sight should not turn to compare with some 
anxiety the masses yearly drawn with the quan- 
tities known or supposed to lie within these 
islands. 

Geologists of eminence, acquainted with the 
contents of our strata, and accustomed, in the 
study of their great science, to look over long 
periods of time with judgment and enlighten- 



1 INTRODUCTION AND OUTLINE 3 

ment, were long ago painfully struck by the 
essentially limited nature of our main wealth. 
And though others have been found to reassure 
the public, roundly asserting that all anticipa- 
tions of exhaustion are groundless and absurd, 
and " may be deferred for an indefinite period," 
yet misgivings have constantly recurred to those 
really examining the question. The subject 
acquired new weight when prominently brought 
forward by Sir W. Armstrong in his Address 
to the British Association in 1863, at Newcastle, 
the very birthplace of the coal trade. 

This question concerning the duration of our 
present cheap supplies of coal cannot but excite 
deep interest and anxiety wherever or whenever 
it is mentioned : for a little reflection will show 
that coal is almost the sole necessary basis of our 
material power, and is that, consequently, which 
gives efficiency to our moral and intellectual 
capabilities. England's manufacturing and com- 
mercial greatness, at least, is at stake in this 
question, nor can we be sure that material decay 
may not involve us in moral and intellectual 
retrogression. And as there is no part of the 
civilized world where the life of our true and 
beneficent Commonwealth can be a matter of 
indifference, so, above all, to an Englishman 

B 2 



4 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

who knows the grand and steadfast course his 
country has pursued to its present point, its 
future must be a matter of almost personal 
solicitude and affection. 

The thoughtless and selfish, indeed, who fear 
any interference with the enjoyment of the 
present, will be apt to stigmatise all reasoning 
about the future as absurd and chimerical. But 
the opinions of such are closely guided by their 
wishes. It is true that at the best we see dimly 
into the future, but those who acknowledge their 
duty to posterity will feel impelled to use their 
foresight upon what facts and guiding principles 
we do possess. Though many data are at present 
wanting or doubtful, our conclusions may be 
rendered so far probable as to lead to further 
inquiries upon a subject of such overwhelming 
importance. And we ought not at least to delay 
dispersing a set of plausible fallacies about the 
economy of fuel, and the discovery of substitutes 
for coal, which at present obscure the critical 
nature of the question, and are eagerly passed 
about among those who like to believe that 
we have an indefinite period of prosperity 
before us. 

The writers who have hitherto discussed this 
question, being chiefly geologists, have of ne- 



I INTRODUCTION AND OUTLINE 5 

cessity treated it casually, and in a one-sided 
manner. There are several reasons why it should 
now ^ receive fuller consideration. In the first 
place, the accomplishment of a Free Trade policy, 
the repeal of many laws that tended to restrain 
our industrial progress, and the very unusual 
clause in the French Treaty which secures a free 
export of coals for some years to come, are all 
events tending to an indefinite increase of the 
consumption of coal. On the other hand, two 
most useful systems of Government inquiry have 
lately furnished us with new and accurate in- 
formation bearing upon the question ; the Geo- 
logical Survey now gives some degree of certainty 
to our estimates of the coal existing within our 
reach, while the returns of mineral statistics 
inform us very exactly of the amount of coal 
consumed. 

Taking advantage of such information, I ven- 
ture to try and shape out a first rough approxi- 
mation to the probable progress of our industry 
and consumption of coal in a system of free 
industry. We of course deal only with what is 

1 The reader should bear in mind that this work was first 
published in 1865. The Introduction and Outline, forming practi- 
cally the preface to the First Edition, has been reprinted without 
any attempt to adapt its phraseology to the facts of forty years 
later. 



6 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

probable. It is the duty of a careful writer not 
to reject facts or circumstances because they are 
only probable, but to state everything with its 
due weight of probability. It will be my fore- 
most desire to discriminate certainty and doubt, 
knowledge and ignorance — to state those data 
we want, as well as those we have. But I 
must also draw attention to principles governing 
this subject, which have rather the certainty 
of natural laws than the fickleness of statistical 
numbers. 

It will be apparent that the first seven of the 
following chapters are mainly devoted to the 
physical data of this question, and are of an 
introductory character. The remaining chapters, 
which treat of the social and commercial aspects 
of the subject, constitute the more essential 
part of the present inquiry. It is this part 
of the subject which seems to me to have been 
too much overlooked by those who have ex- 
pressed opinions concerning the duration of our 
coal supplies. 

I have endeavoured to present a pretty com- 
plete outline of the available information in 
union with the arguments which the facts sug- 
gest. But such is the extent and complexity 
of the subject that it is impossible to notice all 



I INTRODUCTION AND OUTLINE 7 

the bearings of fact upon fact. The chapters, 
therefore, have rather the character of essays 
treating of the more important aspects of the 
question ; and I may here suitably devote a 
few words to pointing out the particular pur- 
pose of each chapter, and the bearings of one 
upon the other. 

I commence by citing the opinions of earlier 
writers, who have more or less shadowed forth 
my conclusions ; and I also quote Mr. Hull's esti- 
mate of the coal existing in England, and adopt 
it as the geological datum of my arguments. 

In considering the geological aspects of the 
question, I endeavour to give some notion of the 
way in which an estimate of the existing coal 
is made, and of the degree of certainty at- 
taching to it, deferring to the chapter upon 
Coal Mining the question of the depth to which 
we can follow seams of coal. It is shown that 
in all probability there is no precise physical 
limit of deep mining, but that the growing diffi- 
culties of management and extraction of coal in 
a very deep mine must greatly enhance its price. 
It is by this rise of price that gradual exhaustion 
will be manifested, and its deplorable effects 
occasioned. 

I naturally pass to consider whether there 



8 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

are yet in the cost of coal any present signs of 
exhaustion ; it appears that there has been no 
recent rise of importance, but that, at the same 
time, the high price demanded for coals drawn 
from some of the deepest pits indicates the high 
price that must in time be demanded for even 
ordinary coals. 

A distinct division of the inquiry, comprising 
chapters vi. vii. and viii., treats of inventions 
in regard to the use of coal. It is shown that 
we owe almost all our arts to continental nations, 
except those great arts which have been called 
into use here by the cheapness and excellence 
of our coal. It is shown that the constant 
tendency of discovery is to render coal a more 
and more efficient agent, while there is no pro- 
bability that when our coal is used up any more 
powerful substitute will be forthcoming. Nor 
will the economical use of coal reduce its con- 
sumption. On the contrary, economy renders the 
employment of coal more profitable, and thus the 
present demand for coal is increased, and the 
advantage is more strongly thrown upon the side 
of those who will in the future have the cheapest 
supplies. As it is in a subsequent chapter on the 
Export and Import of Coal conclusively shown 
that we cannot make up for a future want of 



I INTRODUCTION AND OUTLINE 9 

coal by importation from other countries, it will 
appear that there is no reasonable prospect of 
any relief from a future want of the main agent 
of industry. We must lose that which constitutes 
our peculiar energy. And considering how greatly 
our manufactures and navigation depend upon 
coal, and how vast is our consumption of it com- 
pared with that of other nations, it cannot be 
supposed we shall do without coal more than a 
fraction of what we do with it. 

I then turn to a totally different aspect of the 
question, leading to some estimate of the duration 
of our prosperity. 

I first explain the natural principle of popula- 
tion, that a nation tends to multiply itself at a 
constant rate, so as to receive not equal additions 
in equal times, but additions rapidly growing 
greater and greater. In the chapter on Popula- 
tion it is incidentally pointed out that the nation, 
as a whole, has rapidly grown more numerous 
from the time when the steam-engine and other 
inventions involving the consumption of coal 
came into use. Until about 1820 the agricul- 
tural and manufacturing populations increased 
about equally. But the former then became 
excessive, occasioning great pauperism, while it 
is only our towns and coal and iron districts 



lo THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

which have afforded any scope for a rapid and 
continuous increase. 

The more nearly, too, we approach industry 
concerned directly with coal, the more rapid and 
constant is the rate of growth. The progress 
indeed of almost every part of our population 
has clearly been checked by emigration, but that 
this emigration is not due to pressure at home is 
plain from the greatly increased frequency of 
marriages in the last ten or fifteen years.^ And 
though this emigration temporarily checks our 
growth in mere numbers, it greatly promotes 
our welfare, and tends to induce greater future 
growths of population. 

Attention is then drawn to the rapid and 
constant rate of multiplication displayed by the 
iron, cotton, shipping, and other great branches 
of our industry, the progress of which is in 
general quite unchecked up to the present time. 
The consumption of coal, there is every reason 
to suppose, has similarly been multiplying itself 
at a growing rate. The present rate of increase 
of our coal consumption is then ascertained, and 

^ The marriage-rate of 1865 and 1866 was 17 '6 per 1000 of the 
population of England and Wales. This figure has never since 
been surpassed, and only once nearly equalled, namely, in 1873. 
When Jevons wrote, therefore, the increased frequency of marriage, 
which he notes, was approaching its culmination. 



I INTRODUCTION AND OUTLINE ii 

it is shown that, should the consumption multiply 
for rather more than a century at the same rate, 
the average depth 0/ our coal-mines would be 4,000 
feet, and the average price of coal much higher 
than the highest price now paid for the finest kinds 
of coal. 

It is thence simply inferred that we cannot 
long continue our present rate of progress. The 
first check to our growing prosperity, however, 
must render our population excessive. Emigra 
tion may relieve it, and by exciting increased 
trade tend to keep up our progress ; but after a 
time we must either sink down into poverty, 
adopting wholly new habits, or else witness a 
constant annual exodus of the youth of the 
country. It is further pointed out that the 
ultimate results will be to render labour so abun- 
dant in the United States that our iron manufac- 
tures will be underbid by the unrivalled iron and 
coal resources of Pennsylvania ; and in a separate 
chapter it is shown that the crude iron manufac- 
ture will, in all probability, be our first loss, 
while it is impossible to say how much of our 
manufactures may not follow it. 

Suggestions for checking the waste and use of 
coal are briefly discussed, but the general con- 
viction must force itself upon the mind, that 



12 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

restrictive legislation may mar but cannot mend 
the natural course of industrial development. 
Such is a general outline of my arguments and 
conclusions. 

When I commenced studying this question, 
I had little thought of some of the results, and 
I might well hesitate at asserting things so little 
accordant with the unbounded confidence of the 
present day. But as serious misgivings do 
already exist, some discussion is necessary to set 
them at rest, or to confirm them, and perhaps 
to modify our views. And in entering on such 
a discussion, an unreserved, and even an over- 
drawn, statement of the adverse circumstances, 
is better than weak reticence. If my conclusions 
are at all true, they cannot too soon be recog- 
nised and kept in mind ; if mistaken, I shall be 
among the first to rejoice at a vindication of our 
country's resources from all misgivings. 

For my own part, I am convinced that this 
question must before long force itself upon our 
attention with painful urgency. It cannot long 
be shirked and shelved. It must rise by degrees 
into the position of a great national and perhaps 
a party question, antithetical to that of Free 
Trade. There will be a Conservative Party, 
desirous, at all cost, to secure the continued and 



I INTRODUCTION AND OUTLINE 13 

exclusive prosperity of this country as a main 
bulwark of the general good. On the other 
hand, there will be the Liberal Party, less 
cautious, more trustful in abstract principles 
and the unfettered tendencies of nature. 

Bulwer, in one of his Caxtonian Essays, has 
described, with all his usual felicity of thought 
and language, the confliction of these two great 
parties. They have fought many battles upon 
this soil already, and the result as yet is that 
wonderful union of stability and change, of the 
good old and the good new, which makes the 
English Constitution. 

But if it shall seem that this is not to last 
indefinitely — that some of our latest determina- 
tions of policy lead directly to the exhaustion of 
our main wealth — the letting down of our main- 
spring — I know not how to express the difficulty 
of the moral and political questions which will 
arise. Some will wish to hold to our adopted 
principles, and leave commerce and the con- 
sumption of coal unchecked even to the last ; 
while others, subordinating commerce to pur- 
poses of a higher nature, will tend to the 
prohibition of coal exports, the restriction of 
trade, and the adoption of every means of 
sparing the fuel which makes our welfare and 



14 THE COAL QUESTION ch. i 

supports our influence upon the nations of the 
world. 

This is a question of that almost religious 
importance which needs the separate study and 
determination of every intelligent person. And 
if we find that we must yield before the dis- 
position of material wealth, which is the work of 
a higher Providence, we need not give way to 
weak discouragement concerning the future, but 
should rather learn to take an elevated view of 
our undoubted duties and opportunities in the 
present. 



CHAPTER II 

OPINIONS OF PREVIOUS WRITERS 

One of the earliest writers who conceived it was 
possible to exhaust our coal mines was John 
Williams, a mineral surveyor. In his Natural 
History of the Mineral Kingdom, first published 
in 1789, he gave a chapter to the consideration 
of " The Limited Quantity of Coal of Britain." 
His remarks are highly intelligent, and prove 
him to be one of the first to appreciate the value 
of coal, and to foresee the consequences which 
must some time result from its failure. This 
event he rather prematurely apprehended ; but 
in those days, when no statistics had been col- 
lected, and a geological map was unthought of, 
accurate notions were not to be expected. Still, 
his views on this subject may be read with profit, 
even at the present day. 

Sir John Sinclair, in his great Statistical Ac- 
count of Scotland,^ took a most enlightened view 

1 Vol. xii. p. 547- 



1 6 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

of the importance of coal ; and, in noticing the 
Fifeshire coal-field, expressed considerable fears 
as to a future exhaustion of our mines. He 
correctly contrasted the fixed extent of a coal- 
field with the ever-growing nature of the con- 
sumption of coal. 

In 1812 Robert Bald, another Scotch writer, 
in his very intelligent General View of the Coal 
Trade of Scotland, showed most clearly how 
surely and rapidly a consumption, growing in a 
"quick, increasing series,"^ must overcome a 
fixed store, however large. Even if the Gram- 
pian mountains, he said,^ were composed of coal, 
we would ultimately bring down their summits, 
and make them level with the vales. 

In later years, the esteemed geologist Dr. 
Buckland most prominently and earnestly brought 
this subject before the public, both in his evidence 
before the Parliamentary Committees of 1830 
and 1835, and in his celebrated Bridgewater 
Treatise? On every suitable occasion he im- 
plored the country to allow no waste of an article 
so invaluable as coal. 

Many geologists, and other writers, without 



' P. 94. 2 P. 97. 

' See also his Address to the Geological Society, Feb. 19th 
1841, p. 41- 



II OPINIONS OF PREVIOUS WRITERS 17 

fully comprehending the subject, have made so- 
called estimates of the duration of the Newcastle 
coal-field. In the early part of the nineteenth 
century this field was so much the most im- 
portant and well known, that it took the whole 
attention of English writers. The great fields of 
South Wales and Scotland, in fact, were scarcely 
opened. But those who did not dream of the 
whole coal-fields of Great Britain being capable 
of exhaustion, were early struck by the pro- 
gressive failure of the celebrated Newcastle 
seams. Those concerned in the coal trade know 
for how many years each colliery is considered 
good ; and perhaps, like George Stephenson in 
early youth, have had their homes more than 
once moved and broken up by the working out of 
a colliery.^ It is not possible for such men to 
shut their eyes altogether to the facts. 

I give, on the following page, a tabular sum- 
mary of the chief estimates of the duration of 
the Newcastle field. 

Suffice it to remark, concerning these esti- 
mates, that the amounts of coal supposed to 
exist in the Newcastle field are much more 
accordant than the conclusions as to the pro- 
bable duration of the supply. The reason of 

1 Smiles' Engineers, vol. iii. pp. 18, 22. 

C 



THE COAL QUESTION chap. 



Estimates oj the Duration of the Northumberland ana Durhatn 
Coal-Field 



Author of Esti- 
mate 


> 

Date 
of Esti- 
mate 


Supposed Area 

of Coal 

Measures 

unworked 

Square Miles 


Estimated 

Amount of 

Coal 

Millions of 
Tons 


Assumed 

Annual 

Consumption 

of Coal 

Tons 


Dura- 
tion of 
Supply 

Years 


MacNab i . . 
Bailey 2 . . . 
Thomson ^ . . 
Bakewell * . . 
Hugh Taylor 5 
Buckland ' . . 
Greenwell ' . 
T. Y. Hall 8 . 
T. Y. Hall 9 . 
E. Hull i» . . 


1792 
1801 
1814 

1830 
1830 
1846 
1854 
1861 
1864 


30c 

732 

750 
800 
685 


5 575 
6,046 

5,122 
5,027 
7,226 


1, 866,200 
3,700,000 

3,500,000 

10,000,000 
14,000,000 
22,500,000 
16,001,125 


360 
200 

1000 
350 

1727 
400 
331 
365 
223 
450 



1 Treatise on the Coal Trade, quoted in Appendix to J. Williams' 
History of the Mineral Kingdom : Edinburgh, 1810, vol. ii. p. 267. 

2 Edinburgh Review, vol. cxi. p. 84, note. This estimate, how- 
ever, seems to refer to Durham only, and to a later year than 1801. 
See John Bailey, General View of the Agriculture of the County 
of Durham, 1810, p. 28. 

5 Annals of Philosophy, December, 1814. 

* Introduction to Geology, p. 192. 

5 Report on Coal Trade, 1830, p. Tj. Edinburgh Review, vol. li. 
p. 190. M'CuUoch's Dictionary, art. Coal. 

^ Report on Coal Trade, 1830. 

' and 8 T. Y. Hall. Transactions of the North of England 
Institute of Mining Engineers, 1854. Fordyce, History of Coal 
Coke, and Coal-Fields : Newcastle, i860, p. 32. 

s T. Y. Hall. Transactions of the North of England Institute 
of Mining Engineers, 1861, pp. 61-2. 

" The Coal-Fields of Great Britain, by Edward Hull, B.A. 
2nd ed. p. 161. (Stanford.) 



II OPINIONS OF PREVIOUS WRITERS 19 

course is that the annual consumption is a 
rapidly growing quantity, and it is a most short- 
sighted proceeding to argue as if it were con- 
stant.^ These so-called estimates of duration 
are no such thing, but only compendious state- 
ments how many times the coal existing in 
the earth exceeds the quantity then annually 
drawn. 

The apparent accordance of these writers 
often arises, too, from the compensation of 
errors. Some of them assumed, most wrongly, 
that the known seams extended continuously 
over the whole area of the field ; they did not 
allow for the less extension of the higher seams, 
a point we shall have to consider ; and then 
again, even Dr. Buckland, in accordance with 
the prevalent opinion of those times, did not 
suppose that any coal existed under the mag- 
nesian limestone strata at the southern angle of 
the Newcastle field. In Mr. Hull's estimate, 
however, allowance is made for hidden coal 

' Mr. Hall, when writing in 1854, predicted an increase of the 
annual output to 20,000,000 tons, a rate of production which he 
estimated would exhaust the coal-field in 256 years. Similarly, 
anticipated expansions of industry referred to in his paper of 1861 
would increase the extraction to 28,500,000 tons yearly, and lessen 
the duration to 177 years. The output of the counties of North- 
umberland and Durham exceeded 28,500,000 tons for the first time 
in 1871. In 1904 it amounted to 48,412,627 tons. 

C 2 



20 THE COAL QUESTION chap, 

likely to exist. He took 460 square miles as 
the area of the open coal measures, and 225 
square miles as the available area covered by- 
newer geological formations. 

Some writers, without going into numerical 
detail, have explained very clearly the bearings 
of this question. John Holland, for instance, 
the author of an excellent anonymous work on 
coal, has made very sound remarks upon the 
probable duration of our coal. "While," he 
says,^ "it is manifestly inconclusive to estimate 
according to present demand the consumption of 
coals for centuries to come ; and still more so tcy 
assign any specific condition of society to such 
a remote period ; we are warranted, in the first 
place, in assuming that the demand for this 
species of fuel will not diminish, but increase 
with every imaginable condition of the progress 
of society ; and, secondly, we have before us the 
undoubted fact that our mines are not inex- 
haustible. In addition to this, there is the 
most direct evidence to show how far some of 
the most valuable beds in the northern coal- 
fields have been worked out already ; at the 
same time, that tolerably satisfactory calcula- 

1 A History and Description of Fossil Fuel: 1835, chap, xxiv, 
p. 454- 



n OPINIONS OF PREVIOUS WRITERS 21 

tions have been made as to the quantity re- 
maining unwrought." 

Mr. T. Sopwith, in 1844, in an essay on 
TAe National Importance of Preserving Mining 
Records (p. 50), made the following very ex- 
cellent remarks : — " The opinion that our stores 
of coal are all but inexhaustible rests wholly on 
assumed data, and not upon any accurate and 
detailed statistical accounts such as alone could 
warrant a confident opinion. This question will, 
ere long, become a subject of serious concern, 
unless some measures are taken to found our 
calculations on a solid basis. It is an easy 
matter to assume that a considerable thickness 
of available coal extends over hundreds of square 
miles ; but the different opinions formed by men 
of the highest respectability and talent, strongly 
prove how meagre and unsatisfactory are the 
only data on which these estimates are founded. 
It is not, however, the mere quantity of coal 
that is to be considered. Especial regard must 
be had to its quality, depth, thickness, extent, 
and position. Many of the inferior seams can 
only be worked in conjunction with those which, 
by their superior quality, repay the expense of 
working them at depths varying from 300 to 600 
yards ; and it may readily be conceived, that 



22 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

inferior coal only could not be profitably raised 
from pits equal in depth to three or four times 
the height of St. Paul's Cathedral, unless the 
price of such inferior coal was raised to more 
than the present price of the best coal. It is 
the additional expense and consequent additional 
difficulty of competing with other countries, that 
is the vital question to be considered. It is not 
the exhaustion of mines, but the period at which 
they can be profitably worked, that merits earnest 
and immediate attention." 

Among statistical writers the late Mr. M'Cul- 
loch characterised the notions of the exhausti- 
bility of our coal mines as utterly futile, both in 
the article on Coal in his Dictionary of Com- 
merce, and in his Account of the British 
Empire. ^ For his views, however, the reader 
may be referred to works so well known and 
accessible. 

Mr. Waterston, in his Cyclopcedia of Com.- 
merce^ treated the question with more caution, 
but erroneously supposed that modes of econo- 
mising coal would compensate the evil of the 
increasing cost. 

The progress of the Geological Survey, and 

1 Fourth edition, vol. i, p. 600. 

2 1846, p. 163. 



II OPINIONS OF PREVIOUS WRITERS 25 

the establishment of a Mining Record Office/ 
have placed this question upon a new footing ; 
and when, in i860, public attention was drawn 
to the subject by the warm debates on the 
French Treaty, Mr. Edward Hull, of the Geo- 
logical Survey, was induced to prepare a concise 
description of our coal-fields with an estimate of 
their total contents. The later views of the 
same geologist have been given in an excellent 
paper on the coal-fields, forming the first article 
of th.& Journal of Science for January, 1864. 

Referring the reader for all geological details 
to Mr. Hull's very useful works, and leaving 
over for discussion some points of his calcula- 
tions, I will now state his general results. Mr. 
Hull's estimate of the probable contents of 
our chief coal-fields ^ amounts in the aggregate to 
79,843 millions of tons, their area being stated 
at 5,431 square miles, of which 932 square miles 
are covered by newer formations. 

In his later publication,^ Mr. Hull gives 
his estimate in the form shown on the following 
page :— 



' As suggested by Mr. Sopwith at the British Association in 
1838. 
2 Coal-fields of Great Britain, 2nd ed. p. 187. 
^ Journal of Science, No. I, p. 33. 



24 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

General Statement of the Condition of our Coal-Fields ^ 



Coal Group 


Area in 
Square 
Miles 


Coal Contents 

Millions of 
Tons 


Produce in 1861 
Tons 


Number of 

Collieries, 

1861 


Scotch 

Newcastle .... 

Lancashire, Staf- 
fordshire, &c. . 

South Wales . . . 

Cumberland . 

Totals .... 


1,920 
1,845 

}S3S 

1,094 

25 


25,300 
24,000 

7,594 

26,560 

90 


11,081,000 
34,635,884 
25,643,000 

13,201,796 

1,255,644 


424 
848 

1,158 

516 

28 


5,419 


83,544 


85,817,324 


2,974 



' The following table shows the comparison between the above 

estimate of resources and those of the two Royal Commissions. 

Available Resources of the Proved Coal-Fields of the United Kingdom 

(Millions of Tons) 

Not exceeding ^^o^iojeei in depths and after making all necessary deductions 



District 


Hull, 
1864 


Output 
1865-69 


Argyll 
Commis- 
sion, 
1870 


Output 
1870- 
1904 


Allerton Commission, 
1904 


Total 


In seams 

of 2 ft. 

and over 


A. South Wales 

B. Staffs., &c. . . . 

C. Lanes., &c. 

D. Midland . . . 

E. Northern . . 

F. Scotland .... 

G. Ireland 

Totals ... 

In concealed and un- 
proved coal-fields . 

Totals 


26,560 

} 7,594 { 

I 24,090 1 
25.300 


76 
77 
79 
81 
132 
69 
0-6 


36,940 
7,027 
7,556 
18,243 
10,442 
9,843 
156 


1,010 

634 

830 

1.259 

1,368 

823 

4 


30,928 
9,057 
6,267 
26,499 
12,308 
15,681 
174 


25.691* 
8,518 
5,450 

19,676 

10.433 

11,044 

174 


83,344 
} - 


515 


90,207 
56,273 


5.928 


100,914 
40,722 


80,986 


- 




146,480 


- 


141,636 


- 



* The figures for Somersetshire, included in this total, have not undergone anv 
deduction for seams less than two feet in thickness. 

It will be seen that the data provided by later and fuller investiffa- 



II OPINIONS OF PREVIOUS WRITERS 25 

It will be seen that his estimate, in 1864, of 
the total contents of our coal-fields, exceeds by- 
only an inconsiderable quantity his estimates in 
i860 and 1 86 1. I shall accept this quantity of 
83,544,000,000 tons of available coal as a con- 
venient basis for discussion, subject to whatever 
may be said later on, as to some of Mr. Hull's 
assumptions. As Mr. Hull possesses the most 
intimate practical acquaintance with the Lancashire 
and some of the Midland coal-fields, acquired 
in carrying out the Geological Survey, and has 
at his command all the published results of the 
survey, the experience of his coadjutors, and the 
writings of previous geologists, his estimate must 
certainly be accepted for the present. 

But whether this estimate be accurate or not, 
it will appear that the exact quantity of coal 
existing is a less important point in this question 
than the rate at which our consumption increases, 
and the natural laws which govern that consump- 
tion. The question is mainly one of statistical 
science, and it is only as such that I venture to 
have anything to do with it. 

Mr, Hull, indeed, has not confined himself to 

tion do not differ from those which served as the basis of Jevons' 
argument in any sufficient degree to invalidate that argument. A 
more detailed table of the resources as reported by the AUerton 
Commission is given at the end of the chapter (p. 38). 



26 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

the geological side of the question, and his remarks 
upon the statistical bearings of his estimate must 
not be passed over, though they are far from 
having the same weight as his geological state- 
ments. Throughout his work, he compares the 
contents of each coal-field with the present annual 
quantity of coal drawn from it, and his remarks 
on the condition of the several fields are inter- 
esting and significant. The present generation, 
he thinks, may see the end of the Flintshire coal- 
field, which was largely worked in the days of 
shallow pits, and contains little more than twenty 
millions of tons for future supply.^ The Coal- 
brookdale coal-field, where the present mode of 
iron manufacture was first established, is even 
further advanced towards exhaustion, and can 
hardly last more than twenty years.^ The South 

' Journal of Science, No. I, p. 29. In the third edition of his 
Coal-Fields of Great Britain, issued in 1873, after mentioning the 
Argyll Commission's estimate of 718 millions of tons of available 
coal in the coal-field, Professor Hull states (p. 151) " The quantity 
of coal in the actual and visible coal-field can scarcely last more than 
half a century.'' The total reported for Flintshire by the recent 
Royal Commission is 771 million tons of available coal unworked. 

2 The following is an extract from the third edition of Professor 
Hull's Coal-Fields of Great Britain (p. 137): "The coal under a 
very large portion of this field has been nearly exhausted, as will 
be apparent to anyone who crosses it by the Wolverhampton and 
Shrewsbury railway, when, over a large area, nothing but dis- 
mantled engine-houses and enormous piles of refuse from 
abandoned coal and iron mines meets the eye. The collieries 
have gradually migrated from the western outcrop towards the 



]i OPINIONS OF PREVIOUS WRITERS 27 

Staffordshire field has passed the meridian of its 
career, and is on the verge of old age. " Its 
extraordinary richness has been the principal 
cause of its early decline, and the treasures 
easily acquired have been often recklessly squan- 
dered." 1 

It is true that the great South Wales and 

east. Under these circumstances, it is probably within the mark 
to deduct from the original mass of coal two-thirds for the quantity 
already worked out." After estimating the coal remaining at 
18 millions of tons, it is pointed out that it would be exhausted in 
thirteen years at the rate of consumption recorded for 1870. It is 
added : " This estimate only applies to the actual coal-field." In 
1897, in Our Coal Resources (p. 54), Professor Hull wrote : " Over 
a large part of the southern and central portions of the coal-field, 
the beds of coal and valuable ironstone have now been worked 
out." 

He then gave a revised estimate of the resources of the coal- 
field, and estimated that about 12,600,000 tons would remain 
unworked at the end of the nineteenth century. The estimate of 
the recent Royal Commission was 1 53,000,000 tons. The produc- 
tion of Shropshire in 1904 was 805,185 tons. 

The increased knowledge of the resources of different districts 
made available in the last forty years affords other illustrations of 
the point under discussion here by Jevons. Thus, in Mr. J. S. 
Dixon's report, prepared for the AUerton Commission, on the 
resources of the Scottish coal-fields, we find the following remarks 

(P- 9) : 

" It is significant that, of the estimated quantity in Lanarkshire, 
only 45 per cent exists in seams twenty-four inches and upwards 
in thickness. Since the report of the former Coal Commission in 
1871, till 1902, 405,933,793 tons have been worked in Lanarkshire, 
thus accounting for the large exhaustion of the thicker seams. . . . 

" The inference, therefore, is that the output from Lanarkshire is 
now unlikely to much increase, and a decrease once begun will 
continue." 

1 Journal of Science, No. I. p. 30. 



2 8 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

Scotch coal basins contain some thousands of 
times their present annual yield of coal.^ But it 
is obvious they will have, in future years, to com- 
pensate the falling off in all the smaller and older 
fields, as well as to bear their own increased local 
demand. Coal will be got where it can most 
cheaply and easily be got, and the exhaustion of 
one field will only throw a new demand upon 
fresher fields. This is a process already exten- 
sively going on. 

"The supply of coal in the South Staffordshire 
■district," says Mr. William Mathews,^ " has 
seriously fallen off of late years, and has become 
quite inadequate to meet the demand occasioned 
by the development of its other manufacturing 
resources. We are, therefore, obliged to lean 
somewhat on the aids which the produce of the 
northern coal-fields opens up to us ; and if, by 
any chance, the resources we now enjoy, from 
that and other districts in England, should be 
withheld, we should feel the inconvenience of 
being deprived of such resources very sensibly 
indeed." 

' With the enlarged output of the present time, we must sub- 
stitute "hundreds" for "thousands,"' neither field having resources 
equal to one thousand times the output of 1904. 

^ Trans, of the North of England Institute of Mining Engineers 
vol. X. p. 74. (1862.) 



II OPINIONS OF PREVIOUS WRITERS 29 

The same process is taking place, by aid of 
railways, in many shallow coal districts, and 
it may proceed until the whole country is mainly 
dependent on one or two of the greatest coal 
basins. We ought, therefore, to compare the 
total supply within the kingdom with the total 
probable demand, paying little or no regard to 
local circumstances. 

Mr. Hull has made such a comparison. He 
compared the 79,843 millions of tons of his first 
estimate^ with the 72 million tons of coal con- 
sumed in 1859, and deduced that, at the same 
rate of consumption, the supply would last iioo 
years. 

" Yet we have no right," he very truly re- 
marked, " to assume that such will be the actual 
duration ; for the history of coal mining during 
the last half century has been one of rapid 
advance." Our consumption, in short, had about 
doubled itself since 1840 ; and, supposing it to 
continue doubling every twenty years, our "total 
available supply would be exhausted before the 
lapse of the year 2034." ^ 

" If we had reason," he continues,^ " to expect 
that the increase of future years was to progress 

' Coal-Fields of Great Britain, 2nd ed. p. 236. 

^ The calculation is not strictly correct. ^ loc. cit. p. 237. 



30 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

in the same ratio, we might well tremble for the 
result ; for that would be nothing less than the 
utter exhaustion of our coal-fields, with its con- 
comitant influence upon our population, our 
commerce, and national prosperity, in the short 
period of 1 72 years ! " 

No sooner has Mr. Hull reached this truly 
alarming result than he recoils from it. " But 
are we," he says, " really to expect so rapid a 
drain in future years ? I think not." Economy 
will reduce our consumption ; the burning waste- 
heaps of coal will be stopped ; America will 
relieve us from the world-wide demand for our 
-coal, and will eventually furnish even this country 
with as much as we want. Such are some of 
the fallacious notions with which Mr. Hull, in 
common with many others, sought to avoid an 
unwelcome conclusion. More lately, he has 
said : ^ " Notwithstanding these facts, however, 
it would be rash to assume that the experience 
of the past is to be a criterion of the future. We 
neither wish for, nor expect, an increase during 
the remainder of the second half of this century, 
at all proportionate to that of the earlier half ; 
and this view is borne out by some of the later 
returns. Some of our coal-fields, as has been 

1 Journal of Science, No. I. p. 35. 



11 OPINIONS OF PREVIOUS WRITERS 31 

shown, have passed their meridian, and, having 
expended their strength, are verging to decay. 
Others have attained their maximum, or nearly 
so ; this, indeed, is the case with the majority. 
The younger coal-fields will have much of their 
strength absorbed in compensating for the falling 
off of the older ; so that, in a few years, the 
whole of our coal-producing districts will reach a 
stage of activity beyond which they cannot ad- 
vance, but around which they may oscillate. 
Entertaining these views, I am inclined to place 
the possible maximum of production at 100 mil- 
lions of tons a year ; and yet it has been shown 
that, even with this enormous ' output,' there is 
enough coal to last for eight centuries." 

The reader will easily see, in the course of our 
inquiry, how mistaken was Mr. Hull in 1864, in 
supposing our production of coal to be limited 
to 100 milHons. It has already (in 1864) ex- 
ceeded 92 millions without counting the waste 
of slack coal, and is yet advancing by great 
strides.^ And the public seems unaware that a 
sudden check to the expansion of our supply would 
be the very manifestation of exhaustion we dread. 
It would at once bring on us the rising price, the 
transference of industry, and the general reverse 

1 In 1904 the output of coal exceeded 232 millions of tons. 



32 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

of prosperity, which we may hope not to witness in 
our days. And the eight centuries of stationary 
existence he promises us would be Httle set off 
against a nearer prospect so critical and alarming. 

Facts, however, prove the hastiness of these 
views. The number of collieries is rapidly in- 
creasing up to the very last accounts (1864);^ 
and new collieries being mostly larger works- 
than the old ones laid in, we may conclude that 
coal owners are confident of pushing the produc- 
tion for many years to come. 

The remarks of Sir W. Armstrong on this 
subject, in his Address to the British Association 
at Newcastle, in 1863, are so excellent that I 
quote them at length : — " The phase of the 
earth's existence, suitable for the extensive 
formation of coal, appears to have passed away 
for ever ; but the quantity of that invaluable 
mineral which has been stored up throughout 
the globe for our benefit is sufficient (if used 
discreetly) to serve the purposes of the human 
race for many thousands of years. In fact, the 
entire quantity of coal may be considered as 
practically inexhaustible. 

^ Since 1875 the number of collieries has decreased consider- 
ably. As the output has grown, it needs no proof that new 
collieries have been larger than those older ones which have been 
abandoned. Recent reports continue to show that new collieries 
are being opened out, and the latter part of the paragraph will 
apply to 1905 as fully as to 1864. 



11 OPINIONS OF PREVIOUS WRITERS 33 

" Turning, however, to our own particular 
country, and contemplating the rate at which we 
are expending those seams of coal which yield 
the best quality of fuel and can be worked at 
the least expense, we shall find much cause for 
anxiety. The greatness of England much de- 
pends upon the superiority of her coal, in cheap- 
ness and quality, over that of other nations ; but 
we have already drawn, from our choicest mines, 
a far larger quantity of coal than has been raised 
in all other parts of the world put together ; and 
the time is not remote when we shall have to 
encounter the disadvantages of increased cost of 
working and diminished value of produce. 

" Estimates have been made at various periods 
of the time which would be required to produce 
complete exhaustion of all the accessible coal in 
the British Islands. The estimates are certainly 
discordant ; but the discrepancies arise, not from 
any important disagreement as to the available 
quantity of coal, but from the enormous difference 
in the rate of consumption at the various dates 
when the estimates were made, and also from the 
different views which have been entertained as to 
the probable increase of consumption in future 
years. The quantity of coal yearly worked from 
British mines has been almost trebled during 
the last twenty years, and has probably increased 

D 



34 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

tenfold since the commencement of the present 
century ; but as this increase has taken place 
pending the introduction of steam navigation 
and railway transit, and under exceptional con- 
ditions of manufacturing development, it would 
be too much to assume that it will continue to 
advance with equal rapidity. 

" The statistics collected by Mr. Hunt, of the 
Mining Record Office, show that, at the end of 
1 86 1, the quantity of coal raised in the United 
Kingdom had reached the enormous total of 86 
millions of tons, and that the average annual 
increase in the eight preceding years amounted 
to 2f millions of tons. 

" Let us inquire, then, what will be the dura- 
tion of our coal-fields if this more moderate rate 
of increase be maintained. By combining the 
known thickness of the various workable seams of 
coal, and computing the area of the surface under 
which they lie, it is easy to arrive at an estimate 
of the total quantity comprised in our coal-bearing 
strata. Assuming 4,000 feet as the greatest 
depth at which it will ever be possible to carry 
on mining operations, and rejecting all seams of 
less than two feet in thickness, the entire quantity 
of available coal existing in these islands has 
been calculated to amount to about 80,000 mil- 
lions of tons, which, at the present rate of con- 



II OPINIONS OF PREVIOUS WRITERS 35 

sumption, would be exhausted in 930 years ; but 
with a continued yearly increase of 2f millions 
of tons would only last 212 years. 

"It is clear that, long before complete ex- 
haustion takes place, England will have ceased 
to be a coal-producing country on an extensive 
scale. Other nations, and especially the United 
States of America, which possess coal-fields 
thirty-seven times more extensive than ours, 
will then be working more accessible beds at a 
smaller cost, and will be able to displace the 
English coal from every market. The question 
is, not how long our coal will endure before 
absolute exhaustion is effected, but how long 
will those particular coal-seams last which yield 
coal of a quality and at a price to enable this 
country to maintain her present supremacy in 
manufacturing industry. ^ So far as this parti- 
cular district is concerned, it is generally admitted 
that 200 years will be sufficient to exhaust the 
principal seams, even at the present rate ot 
working. If the production should continue to 
increase as it is now doing, the duration of those 
seams will not reach half that period. How the 
case may stand in other coal mining districts, I 
have not the means of ascertaining ; but, as the 
best and most accessible coal will always be 
worked in preference to any other, I fear the 

D 2 



36 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

same rapid exhaustion of our most valuable 
seams is everywhere taking place." 

With almost every part of this statement I 
can concur, except the calculation by a fixed 
annual increase of consumption, which I shall 
show to be contrary to the principles of the 
subject, and not to reach the whole truth. 

Dr. Percy, the late eminent metallurgist of the 
School of Mines, is one whose opinions will bear 
great weight on this subject ; and in several 
passages of his treatises on Metallurgy, he has 
expressed his misgivings. Our coal, he says, " is 
not only being consumed at a prodigious rate at 
home, but is being largely exported ; and the 
question as to the probable duration of our coal- 
fields has, of late, been discussed with reasonable 
anxiety. In 1862 we raised 84,000,000 tons 
of coal, and the demand continually increases. 
Hitherto, owing to the abundance of our mineral 
fuel, we have been, and we still are, comparatively 
regardless of economy in its consumption. The 
time has now arrived when necessity will compel 
us to act differently, both in our manufactories 
and in our households." 

I conclude this chapter with the following 
passage from the work of two eminent geologists, 
who wrote, however, when the question was not 
so urgent as at present : — 



II OPINIONS OF PREVIOUS WRITERS 37 

" The manufacturing industry of this island, 
colossal as is the fabric which it has raised, rests 
principally on no other base than our fortunate 
position with regard to the rocks of this series. 
Should our coal-mines ever be exhausted it would 
melt away at once, and it need not be said that 
the effect produced on private and domestic com- 
fort would be equally fatal with the diminution 
■of public wealth ; we should lose many of the 
advantages of our high civilization, and much 
of our cultivated grounds must be again shaded 
with forests to afford fuel to a remnant of our 
present population. That there is a progressive 
tendency to approach this limit is certain ; but 
ages may yet pass before it is felt very sensibly, 
and, when it does approach, the increasing diffi- 
culty and expense of working the mines of coal 
will ' operate, by successive and gradual checks 
against its consumption, through a long period, 
so that the transition may not be very violent : 
our manufacturers would first feel the shock ; the 
excess of population supported by them would 
cease to be called into existence, as the demand 
for their labour ceased ; the cultivation of poor 
lands would become less profitable, and their 
conversion into forests more so." ^ 

1 Conybeare and Phillips, Outlines of Geology, pp. 324-5. 



38 



THE COAL QUESTION chap. 



Coal Resources of the United Kingdom, 1904. 

The recent Royal Commission reported the following figures : 

Total Available Coal Resources of the Proved Coal- 
fields OF THE United Kingdom. 

Not exceeding 4000 feet in depths and after deductions for loss in 

working due to faults, &'c., and for barriers, pillars for the support 

of surf ace buildini^s, Si-'c. 

Estimated net available quantity remaining unworked. 
(Millions of tons.) 



South Wales and Monmouthshire . . 

Somersetshire and part of Gloucester-"! 
shire J 

Forest of Dean ... 

North Stafford 

South Stafford 

Warwickshire 

Leicestershire 

Shropshire 

North Wales 

Cheshire 

Lancashire 

Yorkshire . 

Derby and Notts 

Durham . 

Northumberland 

Cumberland 

Scotland 

Ireland 

Total United Kingdom 



Total 



26,471 

4,198 

259 
4,368 

1,415 
1,127 
1,825 

321 
1,736 

292 

4,239 

19,138 

7,361 

5,271 

5,510 

1,528 

15,681 

174 



100,914 



In seams of a 

thickness of 

two feet and 

upwards. 



21,372 

No details 

121 

4,177 
1,282 

1,095 

1,695 

269 

1,555 
240 

3,655 

14,659 

5,017 

4,374 

4,694 

1,365 

11,044 

No details 



80,986 1 



1 Including total, estimates where no details are given. 



II OPINIONS OF PREVIOUS WRITERS 39 

A further quantity, exceeding 5,239 millions of tons, is estimated 
as available in proved coal-fields at depths exceeding 4,000 feet. 

The following is given as the Resources of the Concealed and 
Unproved Coal-fields, at depths less than 4,000 feet, so far as they 
are capable of being estimated : — 

Coal Available 
(Millions of Tons) 

Cheshire Basin .... 106 

Chester, Wirral and Liverpool District .... 2,880 

Vale of Eden and Solway Firth 800 

Yorkshire and Notts 23,000 

South of the N. Stafford Coal-field 1,742 

Between the Coal-fields of S. Staffs., Coal-\ g 

brookdale and the Forest of Wyre . . . . / ^' ^ 

Between the Coal-fields of S. Staffs., War-\ gg 

wickshire and Leicestershire / i" ' 

Total 39,484 

Cumberland, beyond 5 miles and within i2\ g 

miles of high water mark / 

Under St. Bride's and Carmarthen Bays ... 383 

Total 40,722 



CHAPTER III 

GEOLOGICAL ASPECTS OF THE QUESTION 

I CANNOT pretend to do more, as regards the 
geological aspects of this question, than to give 
some brief account of the way in which geologists 
argue concerning it. At the most I must only 
try to point out what is clear and easy, and what 
is yet involved in doubt. 

In the first place, when we know the extent 
and thickness of a coal seam, we easily calculate 
its contents by weight. Most coals range in 
specific gravity from about 1*25 to i'33, or are 
from one and a quarter to one and a third times as 
heavy as an equal bulk of water. A cubic yard 
of solid coal therefore weighs from 2,103 ^bs. to 
2,243 lbs. And since 2,240 lbs. make one ton, it 
is quite exact enough to say that a cubic yard is a 
ton in weight. 

Supposing a seam, then, to be exactly a yard 
thick, an acre of it will contain 4,840 tons of coal, 



CH. Ill GEOLOGICAL ASPECTS 41 

and a square mile 3,097,600 tons. We may say- 
in round numbers that a coal seam gives a million 
tons of coal per foot thick per square mile. 

Our task is now reduced to that of defining the 
area and thickness of the coal seams of any dis- 
trict. The manner, however, in which the seams 
have been formed and disposed in the crust of the 
earth gives rise to several difficulties. 

1. The seams are of very different thickness 
and quality, some workable and others unwork- 
able ; we are not certain how many we may count 
upon. 

2. The area of the seams in a district is not 
uniform, some having been much more denuded 
or swept away by aqueous agency than others. 

3. Coal seams are more or less broken up by 
faults and hitches, and a greater or less quantity 
of coal must be sacrificed to the necessities ot 
mining. 

4. Coal seams on one side often sink to unex- 
plored depths, and we are uncertain how far we 
can follow them. There are reasons, too, for 
supposing that coal measures may exist where 
they have never yet been reached. 

The first question, of the thickness of workable 
seams, will be more fitly discussed in the next 
chapter. The fact is sufficient here, that, under 



42 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

the present prices of coal, seams of less than 
eighteen or twenty-four inches do not repay the 
cost of working. ^ 

We have next to consider the superficial extent 
of coal seams. It is obvious that, so far as seams 
lie one above the other co-extensively, we may 
lump them together in our estimate. Thus, in the 
Newcastle field, there are ten seams of more than 
two feet thickness, and in workable condition. 
Of these the High main and Low main coal 
seams are each six feet thick, and the intermediate 
Bensham seam is nearly three feet. Adding to 
these the seven other less valuable seams, we 
have a total thickness of coal of thirty-six feet. 
As the area of the field, according to Mr. Hull, 
is 460 square miles, we might be inclined to 
reckon the total contents according to the rule at 

' The economical working of thin seams has made some pro- 
gress in the last forty years, but Jevons' statement remains 
generally true. Dealing with the point in its Final Report, the 
recent Royal Commission state (p. 4, §§ 27, 28) : 

" Whether a particular seam is workable or not depends not so 
much upon its thickness as upon its quality, the nature of the roof 
and floor, its geographical position, the cost of working and the 
selling price. 

Thin seams are also workable when they are found in conjunc- 
tion with another seam, whether of coal, iron ore, fireclay or other 
mineral. ..." 

Several cases where seams of less than a foot in thickness were 
worked, under special conditions, were mentioned by witnesses 
before the Commission. 



Ill GEOLOGICAL ASPECTS 43 

460 X 36 millions of tons, or 16,560 millions 
But we should here commit a considerable error, 
because the seams are not co-extensive. The 
quantity assumed by Mr. Hull, " corrected for 
denudation," is only 8,548 millions of tons. 

The origin of the difference is very easily ex- 
plained, though overlooked by many early and 
some late estimators. It arises from the very 
large portions of the upper seams that have been 
swept away or denuded during geological ages. 
The coal measures consist of many alternated 
beds of sand, mud, coal, and ironstone, deposited 
during a long interval of time in estuaries, great 
swamps, fresh-water lakes, deltas, or flat shores, 
which gradually sank as the beds were added. 
As first deposited, the strata must have been 
nearly level, but they are seldom so now. They 
lie at every angle from the horizontal to the 
vertical. Nowhere have we such good opportu- 
nities as in our coal mines of observing the 
upheavals, the downfalls, the dislocations, contor- 
tions, and denudations which rocks have suffered. 
The Scotch coal-fields must, at one time, have 
formed a nearly continuous and level sheet, but 
are now broken up into many separate irregular 
basins, and the seams are sometimes, as in the 
Mid-Lothian mines, turned up quite vertically 



44 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

on their edge. In the French fields the beds are 
sometimes folded in and out in a highly com- 
plicated and troublesome manner. 

In general the coal measures have only been 
tilted up on one side in sloping plains, or bent 
into gentle curves and basin-like depressions. 
These movements could not take place without 
destroying the continuity of the strata ; for 
though rocks seem to us solid and immovable, 
they are, in comparison with volcanic forces, but 
as thin and incoherent crusts. Accordingly, the 
beds are traversed in every direction by cracks, 
fissures, faults, where the whole mass of strata 
many thousand feet thick has been cloven 
through, one side comparatively to the other 
being thrown up. The great ninety fathom 
dyke, for instance, which crosses the Newcastle 
field, in a somewhat curved line to the north of 
the River Tyne, has caused the downthrow of 
the strata on the north side to the depth of 540 
feet, and has had curious influences upon the 
progress of the English coal trade. On the 
whole, the Newcastle field is one of the least 
disturbed, and presents few great difficulties to 
the miner. 

The Lancashire field is more troubled. The 
new map of the Geological Survey, prepared by 



Ill GEOLOGICAL ASPECTS 45 

Mr. Hull, a complete copy of which may be seen 
in the Museum of Practical Geology,, represents 
it as scored and broken by a number of cracks, 
small and great, interlacing in a very complex 
manner. In short, a sheet of coal measures, to 
use Dr. Buckland's expression, is like a sheet of 
ice broken into numerous irregular pieces, but 
soldered together again without any bit being 
wholly lost. 

Now, when all these disturbances took place, 
the surface of the ground must have been affected 
as well as the underground strata. We might 
expect to find, on the south side of the ninety 
fathom dyke at Newcastle, a perpendicular rocky 
cliff of corresponding height. But no such thing 
is known on any of the coal-fields. The surface 
of our English coal-fields is either quite flat, or 
only swelling in one direction into round topped 
hills, showing no conformity to the underground 
disturbances. We cannot mistake the reason. 
While earthquakes and intrusions of lava were 
breaking up the strata, winds and rains and 
streams, or perhaps the tides of a shallow 
estuary, were wearing away all prominences, and 
carrying off great masses of rock. It has been 
shown, for instance, by Professor Ramsay, that 
the whole body of the coal measures between 



46 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

the South Wales field and that of the Forest of 
Dean, has been swept away ; and the missing 
portion, far larger than mountains in mass, is 
conjecturally restored in the plates of one of the 
earlier memoirs of the Geological Survey. 

During this process the upper beds, of course, 
would be soonest carried off. And when the 
beds are thrown up on one side into an inclined 
plane, we find the seams of coal more and more 
cut away as they are nearer the surface. Thus 
the coal measures, as they usually appear to us, 
successively crop up to the surface, like the layers 
of a piece of wood that has been planed off 
obliquely to its grain. 

Thus it happens that the High main seam of 
coal at Newcastle is quite near the surface, and 
of comparatively limited extent ; while the lower 
seams crop up to the surface at successively 
greater distances from the centre of the field, and 
the lowest crow coals, not included in the true 
measures, appear far away. 

It is obvious, therefore, that in estimating the 
contents of a coal-field as we find it, we ought to 
lay down on a map the line of out-crop of each 
seam, that line at which it is cut by the surface 
of the ground. Then we should measure sepa- 
rately the area of each seam, and multiply each 



HI GEOLOGICAL ASPECTS 47 

area by the thickness of the seam. On many of 
the maps ot the Geological Survey the out-crop 
of the seams is beautifully shown in series of 
devious curves, sharply dislocated here and there 
by the faults. But I am not aware that any 
person has yet estimated the seams separately.^ 
The subject has hardly required so much nicety 
as yet, and Mr. Hull arrives at a corresponding 
result by what he calls a " correction for de- 
nudation," or an allowance for the large part of 
the upper beds worn away in the Newcastle 
field. How he estimates this "correction" 
almost amounting to half, I do not know. 

But the amount of coal ascertained by multi- 
plying the area into the thickness of a seam must 
not be taken as the amount available. Some part 
of a seam is always broken up, burnt, or spoiled 
by the faults and dykes which traverse it. Another 
considerable part is always lost in mining. Up 
to the end of the eighteenth century it was not 
usual to extract more than four-tenths of the 
coal in a seam, when working at a greater depth 
than 100 fathoms ; the rest was left in the form 
of thick pillars to keep the roof from falling in. 

' In the preparation of estimates of resources for the Royal 
Commissions, some of the reporters, at least, have adopted such 
methods as those here named (cf., for example, the reports on 
Districts A, D and F for the AUerton Commission). 



48 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

The free use of timber to support the roof, and 
the introduction of long-wall and panel work- 
ing has allowed the extraction of nearly all the 
coal in favourable positions. Still, in unfavour- 
able circumstances, the highest mining skill will 
probably be unable to get the whole coal ; and 
besides this it is always necessary to leave thick 
barriers of coal around the limits of the property 
in order to shut out the water, or the foul air, of 
neighbouring works. A clause to this effect is 
always introduced into a mining lease, and, if not 
observed, the mine may easily become unwork- 
able. If to these barriers and the wasted pillars 
of coal we add the small coal burnt at the pit 
mouth, or consumed in the ventilating furnaces 
and engines, we cannot estimate the coal avail- 
able for commerce at more than two-thirds of 
that which the continuous seams would contain. 
Accordingly, Mr. Hull allows one-third for 
waste. ^ 

1 The estimated deductions to be made were not separately- 
reported for all districts to the recent Royal Commission. Of the 
total available coal at depths not exceeding 4,000 feet, reported at 
100,915 millions of tons, 30,697 millions are included in estimates 
reported net. The remainder is arrived at, after making deductions 
amounting to 20,532 miUion tons, from an estimated total of 
90,750 millions. The allowances thus amount to 22'6 per cent, a 
figure which would not be reduced were the deductions in all 
districts ascertained, if the information given in regard to the 
largest of the districts which reported net may be taken as a 



Ill GEOLOGICAL ASPECTS 



49 



The contents of a coal field may, then, be esti- 
mated with some certainty, provided that the 
boundaries of the seam on every side be known. 
This is the case in a perfect coal basin like that 
of the Forest of Dean. In the case of fields 
abutting on the sea, like those of Newcastle and 
Whitehaven, we have only the uncertainty con- 
cerning the distance to which coal can be worked 
under the sea. From one to three miles is the 
greatest distance we can conceive possible, except 
under a rise of price, which would constitute the 
scarcity of coal to be apprehended. 

It is only when coal seams sink down beyond 
our knowledge on one side, as in the Yorkshire 
field, that we are in thorough uncertainty as to 
the quantity of available coal. The question 
here becomes a two-fold one. Firstly, how far 
may the coal measures be supposed to dip and ex- 
tend under m.ore modern formations ? Secondly, 
how far can we follow them with profit, consi- 
dering the growing costs and difficulty of deep 
mining ? 

Leaving the second question for discussion in 
the next chapter, there is but little that can be 
said concerning the first. 

guide. Adding an allowance for colliery consumption, which may- 
be taken at S per cent, as a rough average, if not more, the deduc- 
tions now made amount to 27^ per cent. 

E 



50 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

If the science of geology had no other claims 
upon our attention, it would repay all the labour 
spent upon it, many times over, by showing 
where coal may reasonably be looked for. By 
fixing the geological date of each rock, it points 
out in what interval the coal measures must 
appear, if they appear at all. One-third of the 
whole kingdom, it is said, is excluded from the 
search by being formed of rocks older than the 
coal-bearing age. On the other hand, there are 
large areas of country under which coal may 
reasonably be expected to occur, although there 
are no signs of it at the surface : and geology 
may enable us even to fathom the thickness of 
overlying rocks and tell with some certainty the 
depth at which coal will probably occur, if at 
all.^ 

Mr. Hull includes in his estimate 932 square 
miles of such country.^ Of these, 225 square 

' E. Hull, British Association, 1854, Report, p. 87. 
2 The Argyll Commission included about 2,150 square miles in 
the area of concealed coal-fields covered by their estimate of 
resources. The Geological Committee of the later Commission 
reported on unproved coal-fields extending over an area of about 
3,400 square miles. The amounts of coal included in the esti- 
mates of the two Commissions for concealed or unproved coal-fields 
are stated above (p. 24). 

The most extensive, by far, of the concealed coal-fields dealt 
with by the Geological Committee of the later Commission is the 
eastern extension of the coal-field extending from South Yorkshire 



Ill GEOLOGICAL ASPECTS 51 

miles occur at the south-east corner of the 
Durham field, where the coal measures dip under 
the Magnesian Limestone and the New Red 
Sandstone. Another 400 square miles occur 
similarly on the eastward dip of the great York- 
shire and Derbyshire field. Wirral and other 
parts of the Cheshire New Red Sandstone are 
probably underlain by bands or sheets of coal 
measures, connecting the Flintshire and Den- 
bighshire fields with the great Lancashire field. 
The North and South Stafford, Warwick, Coal- 
brookdale, and Forest of Wyre fields are more 
or less completely connected.^ On the other 
sides the fields are definitely terminated by the 
appearance of the carboniferous or mountain 
limestone, that great basement rock which in 
nearly every part of the kingdom bears the coal 
measures. 

As these sunken coal-fields are continuous 
with those now worked, there can be little or no 
doubt as to their existence. But while they can 
hardly contain better seams than those already 

into Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. This extension was con- 
sidered by the Commission of 1866-71 to be among the available 
resources of the kingdom, so far as an area of about 900 square 
miles is concerned. The later Commission considered that an 
area of 2,550 square miles might be included, while Professor 
Kendall, who reported on this concealed coal-field, estimated the 
total area at 3,885 square miles. 
^ Cf. Table on p. 39. 

E 2 



52 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

known, the seams may very possibly thin out if 
followed far. And in many cases the overlying 
Permian and New Red Sandstone rocks may 
contain so much water, and swell to such a thick- 
ness, as to be quite impenetrable. 

A band of coal seams connecting the Durham 
and Yorkshire fields is of a more conjectural 
character. In the country between these two 
fields the Magnesian Limestone, which is above 
the coal, lies directly upon the millstone grit and 
carboniferous limestone below the coal. As there 
is no sign of coal measures at the junction, coal 
cannot now exist at the point. If it ever existed 
in the interval, it must have been swept away 
before the era of the Permian or Magnesian 
Limestone. 

Noticing, then, the rectangular direction in 
which the northerly edge of the Yorkshire coal, 
and the southerly edge of the Durham coal run 
under Permian beds, it seems to be wholly a 
matter of uncertainty how far the denudation, or 
absence of the coal measures, may extend. 

Another possible position of coal measures is 
beneath the cretaceous and Wealden beds of 
Wilts, Berks, Surrey, and Kent. In 1855, Mr. 
Godwin-Austen published a remarkable argu- 
ment, showing that a range of rocks, an under- 



Ill GEOLOGICAL ASPECTS 



53 



ground ridge of mountains, as it were, probably 
stretched from the Mendip Hills to the Ardennes 
in Belgium ; and " we have strong a priori 
reasons for supposing that the course of a band 
of coal measures coincides with, and may some 
day be reached along, the line of the valley of 
the Thames, whilst some of the deeper-seated 
coal, as well as certain overlying and limited 
basins, may occur along and beneath some of the 
longitudinal folds of the Wealden denudation." 
His deductions were partially verified immedi- 
ately after publication by the actual discovery of 
old rocks in the boring of wells at Kentish Town 
and Harwich.-' But Mr. Whitaker, to whose 
able memoir^ and kind aid I am indebted, re- 
marks on the uncertainty of such deductions 
concerning coal. " It must not be supposed that 
because there is almost a certainty of there being 
a ridge of old rocks at some depth below the 
surface along part of the valley of the Thames, 
and a likelihood of some of those old rocks be- 
longing to the coal measures, therefore coal will be 

' The correctness of the age assigned to the Harwich rock was 
later subjected to question, and it now seems safer to regard these 
old rocks as pre-carboniferous. (Cf. Final Report of Commission on 
Coal Supplies, Minutes of Evidence, p. 34 — Prof. Boyd Dawkins 
p. 42— Mr. W. Whitaker.) 

2 The Geology of Parts oj Middlesex, Hertfordshire. &'c., by 
William Whitaker, B.A., F.G.S., 1864, p. 107. (Geological Survey. 



54 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

found at a workable depth in parts of the London 
District ; for the alternations of sandstone, shale, 
&c., that so generally contain workable beds of 
coalj and are therefore known as the ' coal 
measures,' are sometimes almost without that 
mineral." 

In short, all that is shown is a bare possibility 
of finding coal. But as it is uncertain whether 
the coal measures are there at all — whether, if 
there, they contain good coal — and if so, whether 
they are within workable depth and circumstances, 
it must still be held very unlikely that coal will 
ever be got in this tract.^ 

And on the principle that " a bird in the hand 
is worth two in the bush," we should avoid 

' The coal measures were actually reached by a boring at Dover 
in 1890 at a depth of i,ioo feet below Ordnance Datum. Further 
boring at Shakespeare Cliff has penetrated 1,173 feet of the 
coal measures, with 13 seams of coal, and a total thickness 
of 18 feet of coal in seams of not less than 2 feet in thickness. 
At Ropersole, eight miles from Dover, the coal measures 
were struck at 1,181 feet, and have been penetrated to a 
thickness of 548 feet, the coal seams being all quite thin. At 
EUinge, five miles north-west from Dover, a boring in igoi-2 
reached the coal measures at a depth of 1,286 feet. These were 
penetrated through a thickness of 129 feet, but contain no seams 
of coal {cf. Evidence of Prof. Boyd Dawkins and Mr. Whitaker 
before the Commission on Coal Supplies Final Report, part x, 
pp. 26-46). 

The Geological Committee of the Commission considered that, 
in reference to the contents of the field : " the limits are so doubtful, 
as to render an estimate impossible." 



Ill GEOLOGICAL ASPECTS 55 

putting too much reliance on possible coal-fields. 
Their existence is doubtful — they cannot well 
contain better coal than that we now enjoy, and 
may contain much worse, and they are very 
probably at depths, and in conditions, where 
they are commercially out of the question, as 
regards competition with foreign coals. There 
is plenty of coal known to exist out of our 
reach without resorting to coal that may or 
may not exist, but is in any case perhaps out 
of reach. 



CHAPTER IV 

OF THE COST OF COAL MINING 

The difficulty and cost of winning and working 
coal-mines form an aspect of the question that 
obviously contains the solution of the whole. 

In a free industrial system, such as we are 
developing and assisting to spread, everything is 
a question of cost. We have heard of moral 
and physical impossibilities, but we ought to be 
aware that there are also commercial impossibili- 
ties. We must ask, in undertaking a work, not 
only whether it can be done, or is physically 
possible, but also whether it will pay to do it — 
whether it is commercially possible. The works 
of the two Brunels were, in a mechanical point 
of view, at least as successful and wonderful as 
those of the Stephensons ; but, commercially 
speaking, they were disastrous failures, which no 
one would have undertaken had the consequences 
been foreseen. Commerce and industry cannot 



CH. IV OF THE COST OF COAL MINING 57 

be carried on but by gain — by a return exceeding 
the outlay. 

Now, in coal-mining, we must discriminate 
the. physical and commercial possibilities. The 
second presupposes the first, but does not follow 
from it. The question is a twofold one : — Firstly, 
is it physically possible to drive our coal-mines 
to the depth of 4,000, 5,000, or 6,000 feet ? and, 
secondly, is it commercially possible when in 
other parts of the world coal is yet being worked 
in the light of day ? The very existence of 
Britain, as a great nation, is bound up in these 
questions. 

Now I apprehend that there is not the least 
danger of our reaching any fixed limit of deep 
mining, where physical impossibility begins. In 
mines already 2,000 or 2,500 feet deep, there Is 
no special difficulty felt in going deeper. But 
we must consider the matter a little, because the 
Quarterly Review has confidently asserted that 
2,500 feet is the limlt,^ and Mr. Hull, after an 
express inquiry Into the matter, thinks that 4,000 
feet may be taken as the limit. ^ It has often 

1 Vol. ex., p. 329. 

2 Coal-fields, etc., 2nd ed., p. 219. About 1845 the greatest 
depth reached was 1,794 feet at Monkwearmouth (R. C. Taylor, 
Statistics of Coal). In 1859 a depth of 2,151 feet was reached 
at Dukinfield. The 1871 Commission had evidence as to three 



58 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

been suggested that the increase of temperature 
of the earth's crust as we descend into it will 
prove an insuperable obstacle, and Mr. Hull and 
others have been inclined to hold that beyond 
a depth of 4,000 or 5,000 feet the temperature 
will entirely prevent further sinking. 

The increase of temperature varies in different 
mines from one degree in 35 to one degree in 
88 feet. The increase in the deep Monkwear- 
mouth Pit was one degree for 60 feet ; but the 
observations of Mr. Astley in the sinking of the 
Dukinfield Deep Pit showed an average increase 
of one degree in 83 feet, nearly the lowest rate 
known.^ If with Mr. Hull we take one degree 
in 70 feet as a safe average rate of increase, we 
easily form the following table, starting from the 
depth of 50 feet from the surface, at which depth 
in this country an uniform temperature of about 
50° Fahr. is found to exist. 



pits of over 2,000 feet in depth, the deepest at that time being the 
Rose Bridge Colliery, Wigan, 2,376 feet. The recent Commission 
received evidence as to several pits of about 2,500 feet in depth, 
and a few about 3,000 feet. The deepest reported was that at 
Pendleton, 3,483 feet deep. All the coal won from this pit in 1902 
was from depths exceeding 3,000 feet (cf. First Report, vol. ii 
p. 16). Evidence relating to a pit near Mons, Belgium, 3,773 feet 
deep, was received {oiy Final Report, part x, p. 354). 

1 The following summary of more recent observations shows 
the temperatures observed in some^of the deeper coal pits (cf. 



IV OF THE COST OF COAL MINING 



S9 



Depth in 
feet 


Increase of 

temperature 

of rock 


Actual tem- 
perature of 
rock 


50 
1,000 
2,000 
3,000 
4,000 
5,000 


0° 

14° 
28° 
42- 
56° 
71° 


50° 
64° 
78° 
92° 
106° 
121° 



The air in mines, independently of the rock, is 
also warmer than at the surface, owing to its 



Ftrsi Report of Commission on Coal Supplies, especially Professor 
Dixon's evidence, pp. 1 14-6). 



Date 


Place 


Depth in 

feet from 

surface 


Temperature 
of rock 


Average feet 
per degree 


1880 


Dukinfield Colliery 


2,700 


86 •5» 


68-4 


1881 


Ashton Moss Colliery . ... 


2,790 


85-3° 


72-8 


1902 


Abram Colliery, Wigan .... 


2,700 


96- 


58-7 


,, 


Agecroft Colliery, Manchester . 


2,940 


92 '5° 


68-2 






Rams Mine, Pendleton . . . 


3,483 


ioo'5° 


67-9 






Sneyd Collieries, Burslem . . . 


2,625 


87-5° 


68-7 






Harris Navigation, S. Wales . 


2,295 


77-5° 


76 






Dowlais Cardiff Colliery . . . 


2,590 


74° 


106 






,) 1) ij - ■ 


2,600 


77" 


94"5 






Niddrie Collieries, Portobello . 


2,488 


73 '6° 


103-3 






M » 1. 


2,623 


74° 


107*2 


1904 


Mons, Belgium 


3,773 


ii6-6° 


55'9 



In a deep boring at Schladebach, temperatures were observed 
to a depth of 5,630 feet in 1889. The average rate of increase was 
one degree in 67'i feet. Temperatures for 4,000 feet and 5,000 feet 
were 108 '8° and I24'2°. 

The average temperature gradient accepted by the Argyll Com- 
mission was one degree in 60 feet, which has been adopted by 



6o 



THE COAL QUESTION chap. 



greater density ; for just as in ascending a moun- 
tain the barometer falls and the air grows rare 
and cold, so in descending a mine the barometer 
rises and the air grows warmer. The barometer, 
roughly speaking, varies about an inch for every 
i,ooo feet of elevation, and the temperature about 
one degree for every 300 feet. On these data 
the following table is roughly calculated : — 



Depth in 
feet 


Height of 
Barometer 


Increase of 

temperature of 

air 


Actual tempe- 
rature of 
air 



1,000 
2,000 
3,000 
4,000 
5,000 


30'0 
31-0 
32-0 

3ro 
34'o 
35-0 


0= 

3° 

f 

10° 

13° 
If 


50° 
53° 
57° 
60° 

63° 

67° 



If air, then, of the temperature of 50° at the 
surface descend 5,000 feet, it will acquire the 
temperature of 67°. The rocks at that depth will 
have the temperature of 121°, and will therefore 
warm the air as it circulates through the mine 

Mr. Hull since the date of that Commission's report. The Allerton 
Commission states that one degree in rather less than 64 feet is 
indicated. The local geological conditions cause considerable 
variations from the average, and the rate at which the temperature 
increases is not uniform at all depths. The temperature in the 
Rams mine increased, at the greater depths, at about one degree 
in 66i feet, which would give io8'3° at 4,000 feet. The fio-ures of 
the table in the text may therefore be retained as the general basis 
of the argument. 



IV OF THE COST OF COAL MINING 6i 

up to 'their own temperature. [The less active 
the circulation of air maintained in the mine the 
more nearly will the temperature of the air ap- 
proach that of the neighbouring rocks.] The 
temperature of the air may be reduced by plen- 
tiful ventilation,^ or by letting out in the mine 
air compressed and cooled at the surface, as is 
done in the new coal-cutting machines. Now, 
as men can work at temperatures exceeding ioo°, 
we are not likely to encounter the physical limit 
of sinking on this account. 

But the cost of sinking and working deep pits is 
quite another matter. The growing temperature 
will enervate, if it does not stop the labourers. 
Thus it is stated ^ that in one Cornish mine men 

' The temperature of the air in the working places in the Rams 
mine was but 93'5° where the rock had a temperature of ioo"5°. 
In the deep Belgian colliery, the air temperature was 103°, or I3'6° 
less than that of the rock. The air current had a velocity of 6 to 
9 feet per second in this case. The maintenance of an air tem- 
perature 6° or 7° below that of the strata is recognized as quite 
feasible. 
,^. 2 Report of Royal Commission on Mines, 1864. 

The effect of high temperatures on the efficiency of workmen 
depends largely on the amount of moisture present in the air. 
Deep pits are generally dry as compared with pits of moderate 
depth. The enervating effect of the heat is thus less than might 
otherwise be expected, since dry heat is less destructive of working 
energy than moist heat. It is stated that the miners work a full 
nine-hour shift in the deep Belgian pit. 

An inquiry into the case referred to in the text was made for the 
Argyll Commission by Dr. J. Burdon Sanderson. He reported 
that " no man remained for more than fifteen minutes in the heat 
at one time, and not always so long. . . . Each miner, after taking. 



62 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

work in an atmosphere varying from iio° to 
1 20° Fahr. But then they work only for twenty 
minutes at a time, with nearly naked bodies, and 
cold water frequently thrown over them. They 
sometimes lose eight or ten pounds in weight 
during a day's work. Much increased ventilation 
will be a matter of expense and difficulty ; the 
hardening^ of the coal and rocks will render 
hewing more costly ; creeps and subsidences of 
the strata will be unavoidable, and will crush a 
large portion of the coal or render it inacces- 
sible ; while explosions, fires, floods, and the 
hundred unforeseen accidents and disappoint- 
ments to which mining is always subject, will 
lie as a burden on the whole enterprise, a risk 
which no assurance company will venture upon. 
In addition to these special difficulties, the whole 
capital and current expenditure of the mine 
naturally grows in a higher proportion than the 

his turn in the heat, retreated into the comparatively cold air 
behind, where the temperature was about 8i°." 

' On this point the evidence before the recent Coal Commission 
points to a conclusion differing somewhat from that expressed in 
the text. The Report thus summarizes the information received : — 

" The increase of pressure with depth has some advantages as 
•well as disadvantages ; it may increase the percentage of small 
coal, and the cost of maintaining the roadways and of timbering, 
but it assists the working of the coal" {Final Report, § 19). Thus, 
though the particular point of the hardening of the coal with depth 
is not supported, the general argument as to increase of cost is 
fully confirmed. 



IV OF THE COST OF COAL MINING 63 

depth. The sinking of the shaft becomes a long 
and costly matter ; both the capital thus sunk 
has to be redeemed and interest upon it paid. The 
engine powers for raising water, coals, miners, etc., 
increase, and, beyond all, the careful ventilation 
and management of the mine render a large staff of 
mechanics, viewers, and attendants indispensable. 

Much may be done by working larger areas 
from the same shaft ; by forming consolidated 
companies for economical drainage ; by perfect- 
ing machinery, and organizing labour to contend 
with the growing cost. But increased areas and 
distances of working, though comparatively di- 
minishing the capital expense of the shafts and 
works above ground, will increase the current 
expenses of drainage, ventilation, and general 
maintenance. 

A full analysis of the detailed accounts of a 
number of collieries of various depths would 
throw great light on this question, and might go 
far to solve the question of England's future 
career. But private commercial accounts are 
shrouded in such impenetrable closeness, that no 
individual inquirers can hope to gain the use of 
them. Even the several Parliamentary Com- 
mittees, in their prolonged inquiries into the 
coal trade in and after 1830, were continually 



64 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

frustrated by Mr. Buddie and other mining 
engineers, who declined to communicate infor- 
mation known to them professionally and con- 
fidentially. The investigation of such a subject 
might perhaps be best undertaken by a Com- 
mittee of the British Association or some other 
learned Society. 

An account of the South Hetton Colliery es- 
tablishment, a well-arranged mine, throws light on 
this subject. It is published in a little work of the 
Traveller s Library^ remarkable for the amount 
of information it contains on the subject of coal. 

Of 529 men employed in or about the colliery, 
140 only are hewers of coal, representing the 
productive power of the establishment. We may 
divide the staff as follows : — 

Hewers of coal • 140 

Putters, screeners, &c 227 

Employed in administration and mainten- 
ance of mine 123 

Boys, variously employed 39 

The "putters," "screeners," and others, to the 
number of 227, are occupied in pushing the 
coal along the tramways from the hewer to the 
shaft ; in raising it to the surface ; screening it, 
and removing the stones ; and, finally, loading it 
into the railway waggon or ship's hold. They 

' Our Coal and Our Coal-pits. The Traveller's Library, vol. 23. 
London : 1856. 



IV OF THE COST OF COAL MINING 65 



represent, as it were, the trading part of the 
community, while the administration represents 
the government ; consisting of a manager, viewers, 
engineers, clerks, and a surgeon, with a great 
number of joiners, sawyers, enginewrights, smiths, 
masons, carters, waggon-wrights, and common 
labourers, as well as ventilators, shifters, foremen, 
and others of responsible duties underground ; 
all occupied in keeping the mine, the ventilation, 
machinery, engines, and the works generally in 
repair.^ 

> Similar facts for a recent date are represented in the following 
return of mine workers in all the anthracite collieries in the State 
of Pennsylvania during 1901. 

Inside foremen, or mine bosses .... 

Fire bosses . 

Miners 

Miners' labourers . . 

Drivers and runners . . . . 

Door boys and helpers . . 

All other employees 

Total inside , . . 



Superintendents, book-keepers, and clerks 

Outside foremen 

Blacksmiths and carpenters . . . 
Engineers and firemen . . 
Slate pickers .... ... 

All other employees 



Total outside . 
Total inside and outside 



539 
830 
37,804 
26,268 
10,894 
3.148 
18,951 

98,434 

804 

379 

2,331 

4,615 

19,564 

21,524 

49,217 
147,65 r 



As many as 108 different classes of labour are mentioned as 
employed by one mining company (cf. Bulletin of the U.S. Depart- 
ment of Labour, May, 1903, pp. 455 and 478). 

F 



66 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

Now, if coal were quarried at the surface, and 
wheeled straight away, each hewer would scarcely 
require more than one subsidiary labourer. In a 
deep mine we find that nearly three subsidiary 
labourers are required, so that four only accom- 
plish what two would do at the surface, to say 
nothing of the timber and other materials con- 
sumed, and the great capital sunk in the shaft, 
engines, and works of the deep mine. 

As mines become deeper and more extended, 
the system of management necessary to facilitate 
the working and diminish the risk of accidents, 
must become more and more complicated. The 
work is not of a nature to be made self-acting, 
and capable of execution by machinery. Even 
in the West Ardsley Colliery, belonging to the 
patentees of the coal-cutting machine, who na- 
turally carry out its use to the utmost possible 
extent, this machine is found ^ to diminish the 

' Prof. H. D. Rogers, in Good Words, April, 1864, p. 338. 

The improvement of coal-cutting machines has greatly in- 
creased the saving of labour which they effect over that attained 
when Jevons wrote. Mr. W. E. Garforth, of Normanton, stated in 
evidence before the Allerton Commission that the use of machines 
enabled 280 men to get as much coal as would need 384 miners by 
hand-work in the Silkstone seam (4 feet thick, depth 960 feet) - 
and that 233 men got 900 tons daily in the Diamond seam (3J feet 
thick, depth 1,500 feet), an amount which would need 400 men at 
hand-work. Of the numbers mentioned, 60 per cent, were colliers 
and fillers, the remainder being engaged in other work directly in 



IV OF THE COST OF COAL MINING 67 

staff only ten per cent. The labour saved is 
only that of twenty-seven hewers, while other 
branches of the staff must be rather increased 
than diminished. So different, too, are the 
conditions of coal-mining, that in many collieries 
the use of coal-cutting machines is perhaps im- 
practicable. 

The deeper a mine the more fiery it in general 
becomes. Carburetted gas, distilled from the 
coal in the course of geological ages, lies pent 
up in the fissures at these profound depths, and 
is ever liable to blow off and endanger the lives 
of hundreds of persons. It was supposed that 
George Stephenson and Sir H. Davy had dis- 
covered a true safety lamp. But, in truth, this 
very ingenious invention is like the compass that 
Sir Thomas More describes in his Utopia as 
given to a distant people. It gave them such 
confidence in navigation that they were " farther 
from care than danger." 

No lamp has been made, or, perhaps, can be 
made, that will prevent accidents when a feeder 

connection with the winning of the coal. Haulage and road 
repairs are not covered by any of the numbers {First Report, vol. ii, 
p. no). 

The advantage of coal-cutting machines has been found in Great 
Britain to be greatest in working thin seams. In adding to the 
safety of the miners, and to the proportion of large coal secured, 
further advantage from their use is found. 

F 2 



68 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

of gas is tapped, or a careless miner opens his 
lamp, or a drop of water cracks a heated glass, 
or a boy stumbles and breaks his lamp. The 
miner's lamp, in fact, is never a safety lamp, 
except when carefully used in a perfectly ven- 
tilated mine. Long experience shows that 
perfect ventilation is the only sure safeguard 
against explosion. But it is no easy matter to 
ventilate near a hundred miles of levels, inclines, 
stalls, and goaves in a fiery mine. 

The amount of drainage required in deepen- 
ing our mines is another point of the greatest 
importance. The coal-measures themselves, con- 
taining many beds of clay and shale, are dry 
enough in general, except where interrupted by 
faults which allow the water to penetrate. 
Thus, the lower parts of deep mines will in 
general be dry enough, but the passage through 
the overlying Permian and New Red Sand- 
stone beds may often be extremely costly, or 
almost impossible. 

" In all the sinkings through the Magnesian 
Limestone, feeders of water, more or less con- 
siderable, are met with at a certain distance 
from the surface, derived not so much by per- 
colation through the mass of the rock — for this 
can obtain to a small extent only — but col- 



IV OF THE COST OF COAL MINING 69 

lected in and coming off the numerous gullets 
and fissures which everywhere intersect and 
divide the mass of strata. If the shaft be not 
drained by pumping or otherwise, the water 
from these feeders rises to a point which 
remains, save in exceptional cases, constant. 
. . . Immediately underlying the limestone is a 
bed of sandstone of very variable thickness, 
which, when exposed to the action of the 
atmosphere, disintegrates rapidly, and has hence 
acquired its local name of ' friable yellow sand- 
stone.' It is in sinking through this bed of 
rapidly decomposing sandstone that such great 
engineering difficulties have been encountered, 
owing to the enormous quantity of water which 
in some cases is met with, more especially if 
the bed be thick and much below the level of 
saturation." 

"A very full account of the sinking of the 
Murton Winning is given by Mr. Potter.-' . . . 
Nearly 10,000 gallons of water per minute were 
pumped out of this bed by engines exceeding 
in the aggregate 1,500 horse-power. The cir- 
cumstances which favour the remarkable accu- 
mulation of water in the limestone, and the 

1 Trans, of the North of England Institute of Mining Engineers, 
vol. V. 



70 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

rapidity with which it is drained off into pits 
sunk through it, are due to several causes, some 
of which are pecuHar to this formation, and 
perhaps to this district. They are : — 

" I. The arrangement of the beds of stratifi- 
cation. 

" 2. The contour of the country. 

"3. The permeability of this formation to 
water." ^ 

In the sinking of Pemberton's Pit at Monk- 
wearmouth, a stratum of freestone sand at the 
base of the Magnesian Limestone poured 3,000 
gallons of water per minute into the sinking. 
And when this flood of water had been overcome 
by an engine of 180 or 200 horse-power, and had 
been " tubbed back,'' a new " feeder " was met 
at the depth of 1,000 feet, requiring fresh pumps, 
and an additional outlay of money.^ The shaft 
was commenced in May, 1826; it was continued 
for eight and a half years before the first work- 
able coal was reached ; and it was only in April, 
1846, twenty years afterwards, that the enter- 
prise was proved successful by the winning of the 
" Hutton Seam." The South Hetton and Great 

' Brit. Assoc. Report, 1863, pp. 726, 727. 
^ Our Coal and our Coal Pits., p. 113. 



IV OF THE COST OF COAL MINING 71 

Hetton pits were also very costly, difficult win- 
nings, on account of the quicksands and irrup- 
tions of water. And the winning of a pit at 
Haswell, in the county of Durham, through the 
Magnesian Limestone and the underlying sand, 
was found impracticable for a like reason, in 
spite of engines capable of raising 26,700 tons of 
water per diem.^ 

In the continuous working of pits, even where 
"tubbing" is used to keep the water out of the 
shaft as much as possible, the quantity of water 
is not unusually seven or eight times as great as 
that of the coal raised.^ At the Friar's Goose 
Colliery, near Gateshead, 6,000 tons of water are 
raised from the mine every day, about twenty 

1 Our Coal and our Coal Pits, p. 115. 

2 Sir James Joicey stated in evidence before the recent Com- 
mission that, in the pits with which he was connected, the coal 
raised was about 5,000,000 tons yearly, and 15,000,000 tons of 
water were pumped {Final Report, part x, p. 146). Mr. H. Mungall, 
speaking of some Lothian collieries, stated that as much as 40 per 
cent, of the total output of coal was consumed in pumping. The 
percentage was reduced to 12 by increasing the output. In the 
Fifeshire Coal Company's colliery, 2,250,000 tons of coal per 
annum was raised, and ten tons of water pumped for each ton of 
coal raised {loc. cit., pp. 212, 213, 216). Mr. J. Gemmell stated 
that in Scotland " occasionally you will find that the quantity of 
water pumped is 20 to 30 times as much as the coal drawn " {First 
Report, vol, ii. p. 150). In South Staffordshire, it was stated that, 
under the general drainage scheme, 26 or 27 tons of water have 
been pumped for every ton of coal won for the last twenty years 
{Final Report, part x, p. 219). 



72 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

times as much as the weight of the coal ex- 
tracted. In some, such as Percy Main and 
Wylam colHeries, it reaches thirty times the 
weight of the coal. 

Now, when it becomes necessary to sink, not 
only through the Magnesian Limestone, but 
through the New Red Sandstone, in order to 
reach new supplies of coal, may not the water be 
found overpowering ? Mr. Hull, in a valuable 
paper On the New Red Sandstone and Permian 
Formations, as Sources of Water-supply for 
Towns} has noticed the extremely porous and 
absorbent nature of the New Red Sandstone. 
" Rain rapidly sinks into it, leaving a dry soil," 
and " under and around all the towns built on 
this formation (or on the Permian) there lie na- 
tural reservoirs of pure water." Now, when we 
come to sink two or three thousand feet through 
such formations, may not the water prove an 
insuperable obstacle ? 

A question of secondary importance concerns 
the limit of thinness of workable coal seams. 
This is, of course, a question of the cost of 
mining. It is found that, at the present price of 
coal, it is not profitable to work seams of less 

^ Manchester Memoirs, 3rd series, 1861-2. Vol. ii, pp. 256 
257. 



IV OF THE COST OF COAL MINING 73 

than 18 or 24 inches thickness/ The reason is 
obvious. In working a four-foot seam little rock 
has to be mined, since the spaces from which the 
coal has been removed furnish the levels and 
communications of the mine. In working a 
two-foot seam, however, large quantities of rock 
have to be removed in addition to the coal, and 
while the cost is hardly less than in a four-foot 
seam, the produce of coal is only one half. A 
one-foot seam, again, would be worked at a very 
great cost, and would furnish less than one-fourth 
of the produce of a four-foot seam. Either the 
larger seam must yield extraordinary profits, or 
else the thinner seam cannot be worked. 

In estimates of existing coal, 24 or 18 inches is 
taken as the limit of workable seams ^ ; how will 

' Cf. ante, p. 42, footnote. 

^ The estimate of resources prepared for the Coal Commission 
of 1 87 1 included all seams of not less than one foot in thickness. 
Some of the Committees charged with preparing district reports 
distinguished between the contents of seams of different thicknesses, 
while others omitted to separate the totals into such classes. The 
estimates of the later Commission generally distinguish between 
the resources of seams 12 to 15 inches, 15 to 18 inches, 18 to 24 
inches, and over 24 inches in thickness. They note that 793 per 
cent, of the available coal estimated to exist at depths less than 
4,000 feet in proved coal-fields is contained in seams of 2 feet 
thick and upwards, and 91 '6 per cent, in seams of 18 inches and 
upwards, so far as the distinction can be made. Only a little over 
4 per cent, of the total reported was not separated according to 
thickness of seams. As to actual current practice, it was given 
in evidence that about 177 per cent, of the output of 1900 in 



74 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

this limit be affected by probable changes in the 
conditions of coal-mining ? A considerable ad- 
vance in the price of coal will, of course, enable 
thinner seams to be worked with profit. Thus, 
to some extent, the rise of prices will be slack- 
ened. The higher the price rises, the more 
thoroughly will the coal-measures be worked, and 
the more coal becomes workable. As, however, 
the high price of coal constitutes the evil of ex- 
haustion, the dreaded results are only somewhat 
mitigated, not prevented. And it would be 
wholly erroneous to suppose that when once the 
thicker seams of a coal district have been worked 
out, we can readily, at a future time, work out 
the thinner seams, when the increased price of 
coal warrants it. For it must be observed, that 
a very large part of the cost of mining consists in 
the cost of draining, ventilation, and mainten- 
ance of the shaft, and works at the bank, which 
we may call the general mining expenses. Now, 
when these expenses are undertaken for the pur- 
pose of working a thick and valuable seam, it is 

Great Britain came from seams 3 feet and under in thickness. In 
East Lancashire, of a total of about 10,000,000 tons, about 
3,000,000 tons were from seams not exceeding 3 feet in thickness, 
about 860,000 tons being from seams of 2 feet and less, and 290,000 
tons from seams not over 18 inches thick. Seams less than a foot 
thick contributed only 15,000 tons (First Report, vol. ii, pp. 25-6). 



IV OF THE COST OF COAL MINING 75 

often possible to work thin seams of less than 24 
inches without any considerable increase in the 
general expenses. In short, the thick seam pays 
the general expenses of the mine as well as its 
own cost of hewing, while it is sufficient if the 
thin seam leaves a small profit on the expenses of 
hewing only. But the price of coal must rise in 
a very extreme degree, that an unworked thin 
seam should, at a future time, pay the general 
costs of drainage, ventilation, and maintenance, 
as well as the cost of hewing. 

The same is true of immense masses of coal 
left underground during the former working of 
mines, as small or crushed coal, as pillars and 
barriers, or as outlying portions rendered difficult 
to mine by faults, or other mining troubles. If 
such portions of coal could not pay for removal 
when the mine was in full working efficiency, 
they cannot pay the whole costs of restoring and 
maintaining the mine in a workable condition, 
not at least until the price of coal has risen 
manifold. 

All, then, that we can hope from thin seams, or 
abandoned coal, is a retardation of the rise of 
price after a considerable rise has already taken 
place. This will hardly prevent the evils appre- 
hended from exhaustion. 



76 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

Nor will the use of the coal-cutting machine 
much affect this question. By reducing the cost 
of hewing and the waste of coal in the "kirv- 
ing," or cut made by the hewer, it will, un- 
doubtedly, to some extent, allow thinner seams 
to be worked. At the same time, it will not 
affect the cost of removing large masses of pro- 
fitless rock, which is essential in working thin 
seams, nor the general cost of the maintenance of 
the mine. If seams of i8 inches are now occa- 
sionally workable, the coal-cutting machine may 
reduce the limit a few inches ; but it is evident 
that seams of less than 1 2 inches could never be 
worked while the price of coal remained at all 
tolerable.^ 

Coal-mining is a fair fight with difficulties, and 
just as the balance inclines between the diffi- 
culties and the powers we possess to overcome 
them, will the cost of coal and the prospects of 
this country oscillate. What we can do to 
cheapen extraction, indeed, is chiefly effected by 
turning the powers of coal against itself, by 
multiplying steam power to pump and wind, and 

' It is for the purpose of supplying special local markets that 
most thin seams which are not worked in conjunction with other 
seams are exploited : they are workable " where there is little or 
no competition with thicker seams " (cf. Final Report of Commission 
on Coal Supplies, § 28). See also footnote p. 67, ante. 



IV OF THE COST OF COAL MINING 77 

cut and draw the coal. But then the greater 
part of the work within the colliery is of a kind 
that cannot be executed by machinery, just as the 
building of houses, or the digging of holes, 
never has been, and scarcely can be, done wholly 
by machinery. 

But be the difficulties what they may, we 
would have ingenuity and energy enough to 
overcome them, were the question one of a 
simple absolute amount of difficulty. But in 
reality we must consider our mines not by 
themselves, but in comparison with those of 
other countries. Our main branches of iron in- 
dustry grew up at places like Wednesbury, in 
South Staffordshire, " where there being but 
little earth lying over the measure of coal, the 
workmen rid off the earth and dig the coal under 
their feet, and carry it out in wheelbarrows, there 
being no need for windlass, rope, or corf."^ 

Our industry will certainly last and grow 
until our mines are commonly sunk 2,000 or 
3,000, or even 4,000 feet deep. But when this 
time comes, the States of North America will 
still be working coal in the light of day, quarry- 
ing it in the banks of the Ohio, and running it 

1 Dr. Plot's Natural History of Staffordshire, quoted in the 
History of Wednesbury, p. loi. 



78 THE COAL QUESTION ch. iv 

down into boats alongside. The question is, Aow 
soon will our mines approach the limit of com.- 
mercial possibility, and fail to secure us any longer 
that Tnanufacturing supremacy on which we are 
learning to be wholly dependent ? 



CHAPTER V 

OF THE PRICE OF COAL 

"Cheapness and goodness," said Yarranton, 
" is, and always will be, the great master, and 
comptroller of trade," and the reader will see 
that the whole question of the exhaustion of our 
mines is a question of the cost of coal. All 
commerce, in short, is a matter of price, " Will 
it pay to do this at this price ? " or, " Will it 
pay better to do this here at this price or there 
at that price ? " Such are the leading questions 
which govern every commercial undertaking in a 
free system of industry. 

The exhaustion of our mines will be marked 
pari passu by a rising cost or value of coal ; and 
when the price has risen to a certain amount 
comparatively to the price in other countries, 
our main branches of ; trade will be doomed. It 
will be well, therefore, to inquire whether there 
has been any recent serious rise in the price of 



THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

coal such as would be the sign of incipient ex- 
haustion. Had a considerable recent rise occurred, 
as I have heard asserted, it might be argued that 
no such evil results have followed as alarmists 
prophesy, and then the optimist would conclude, 
that, perhaps, after all, "dear coal" is not the 
fatal thing some suppose ; this country may sur- 
mount that evil, it will be said, as it has sur- 
mounted worse evils. 

From what reliable accounts I have been able 
to meet with, it is certain that there has been no 
such recent rise of price as could at all operate 
as a check upon our industry. Yet it is certain 
that coal has been cheaper in the past than it 
can again be, and that in the Great Northern 
market the growth of demand during the last 
century has been accompanied by a considerable 
but indefinite rise of price. 

Where coal, indeed, used formerly to be had 
almost for the asking, it now bears a fair price. 
In the palmy day of the Staffordshire "Thick 
Coal" the price of the best large coal was 6^. 
per ton of 21 cwts., and 120 lbs. to the cwt., or 
Ss. 4d. per ton of 2,240 lbs. Coal was a drug 
about Birmingham, " so much so, as to cause the 

coalowners to give great extra weight 

There are many other veins at present not 



V OF THE PRICE OF COAL 8i 

thought worth getting, of from one to three 
yards thick ; inferior coals are sold at 35. per ton, 
and from that upwards, in proportion to their 
quality ; the small coals, for working engines, are 
sold from i^. to is. 6d. per ton ; the supply pro- 
duced for the manufactures of the country would 
always be sufficient, in my opinion, without 
increasing the present price, as there are many 
new collieries now opening." ^ 

The anticipations of the Ironmaster who gave 
this opinion before the Committee of 1800 have 
not proved true. The price of best coal in 
Staffordshire is now gs. or more per ton,^ and 
many writers concur in stating that the mag- 
nificent " Thick Coal " of South Staffordshire 
has been either used or wasted away. The 
wonderful "black country" already leans for its 
supplies of coal and ore upon neighbouring parts ; ' 
it seems to be already overshadowed by the 
approaching decline of prosperity. " He that 
liveth longest, let him fetch fire furthest," was a 
proverb quoted by Dudley,* two and a half 
centuries ago, with reference to the lamentable 

' Evidence of Alex. Raby, Fzrsi Report on Coal Trade, 1800, 
pp. 76, 77. 

2 The price of best Staffordshire house coals at the pit has been 
at or above ids. per ton during 1903 and 1904. 

2 See chap. xv. * Meiallum Martis, p. 8. 

G 



82 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

waste of the Thick Coal, and now the force of the 
proverb is becoming apparent. 

It is almost impossible to get such general and 
uniform statements of the price of coal as would 
warrant us in drawing comparisons over long 
periods of time. The variations in the quality, 
size, and distance of supply constantly affect the 
price, independently of duties and other obstacles. 
Almost all the quotations of prices available for 
comparisons over long periods refer to the 
London market, and are useless, because the 
prices there are not only affected by freights, but 
have been burdened, more or less, by duties and 
charges of a most complicated character. 

The only series of prices I have been able to 
make out gives the average price of the best large 
coal as put free on board at Newcastle, and the 
other shipping places of the North. The first 
two prices (1771 and 1794) are derived from the 
Report of the Select Committee of the House of 
Commons on the Coal Trade in 1830 (p. 7). The 
prices of 1801 — 1851, are from a table of yearly 
prices published by Mr. Porter, in his Progress of 
the Nation (p. 277), and are the average shipping 
prices as returned to the Coal Exchange in 
London under Act of Parliament. The last price 
(i860) is an average computed for the General 



OF THE PRICE OF COAL 



83 



Committee of the Coal Trade of Newcastle, and 
communicated to the Mining Record Office.^ 



Year 
I77I 

1794. 
180I . 
181I 
182I 
183I . 
1 841 . 
1850 . 
i860 , 



Average Shipping Price 

of Newcastle Coal 

J. d. 



5 

7 

10 

13 
12 
12 
10 
9 
9 



per ton 



This is probably as good and comparable a 
series of prices as could be got ^ ; yet it is very 
difficult to draw inferences from it beyond the 

^ Mineral Statistics for i860, p. xxiii. 

^ The Coal Commission of 187 1 gathered a considerable amount 
of information bearing on the price of coal, but little of that 
printed in the Report of Committee E will serve to throw light on 
the problem here under consideration. The price of best coal at 
Newcastle about the year 1600 may be taken at about \os. the 
chaldron, or 3s. c)d. per ton, taking the Newcastle chaldron at 53 cwt. 
This price for best coal is given as occurring in 1602 and also 
1580-90. A quotation for 1655 is given at lu. the chaldron at 
Newcastle, which may be represented by 4^. 2d. the ton. Quot- 
ing from the Newcastle Chronicle, Xht price for 1761 is given at 
1 5J. the chaldron, equivalent to 5^. Zd. per ton. 

Reference to R. C. Taylor's Statistics of Coal (pp. 261, 263) 
shows that Porter's prices include a charge of lod. per chaldron, 
or about 4^. per ton, for weighing and measuring, in addition to 
the prices quoted for coal on board ship. This item, as well as 
the fact that these prices are " for Coals of the First Quality 
shipped for London, at the beginning of June in each year" 
(Porter, p. 277), must be taken into account in any attempt to 
obtain figures continuing the table to later dates, and also in com- 
paring the prices for 1801-1850 with those for earUer dates. The 
difference between the prices for June and yearly average prices 

G 2 



84 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

contradiction of any recent considerable rise. 
The great rise of price up to 1811 was more or 
less due to the depreciation of gold and paper 
currency, or to the other causes, whatever they 
may have been, of the great general rise of prices. 

may be judged from a statement of prices of coal at Newcastle in 
January and July of each year from 1819 to 1832 given in the 
Appendix to the Report of the Committee of Secrecy on the Bank oj 
England Charter, 1833 (p. 92). The prices for July are about 10 
per cent lower than those for January on the average. Then, 
again, a yearly average price, such as that for i860, referring to all 
grades of coal, shipped to all destinations, is not directly com- 
parable with prices of best coals shipped for London. In this con- 
nection, too, the point to which Jevons refers in the sequel has 
some importance. Owing to the combination of coalowners in 
the North which existed from 1771 to 1845, it is stated in Porter's 
account that the price of coal shipped to London was, at times, 
much above that at which coals for export to foreign countries 
were sold, a phenomenon paralleled in modern times, for example, 
in connection with prices of steel in the United States. If this be 
so, the series of prices which deals with coal sold for shipment to 
London would hardly afford a true index of the course of prices, 
even for the best grade of Newcastle coals. In view of the diffi- 
culties involved, an attempt to continue the table to later dates, 
rather than to trace the course of coal prices by using other tables, 
has not been made. 

The following table of prices of coal in Newcastle and Sunder- 
land is derived from figures contained in the evidence taken before 
the Secret Committee on Commercial Distress in 1848 : — 



Newcastle Sunderland 
J. d. s. d, 

1784-90 per ton 76 — 

1791-97 >, 9 9 — 

1798-1804 ,, 12 6 HI 

1805-11 „ 15 2 12 2 



Newcastle Sunderland 
J. d. s. d. 

1812-18 per ton 14 3 12 6 

1819-25 „ II 8 12 o 

1826-32 „ 10 5 II 1 

1833-37 „ 9 4 9 10 



Comparison of these figures with the average value of coal shipped 
from the two ports in the years 1833-37 suggests that a superior 
quality of coal is referred to. The inflation of prices during the 
later years of the Bank Restriction is shown more markedly here 
than in Porter's figures. 



V OF THE PRICE OF COAL 85 

The subsequent fall is, of course, partly due to the 
restoration of our currency, and to the other 
debatable causes of a general fall of prices/ 

There are, however, at least two other circum- 
stances not to be lost sight of in comparing early 
and late prices of coal. 

Some indication of the approximate level of prices which a 
continuation of the table in the text might be expected to show 
may, probably, be obtained from the following series from the 
Economist (A \h& prices of best Northumberland steam coals, f.o.b. 
Tyne, in selected years. The quotations are for July ist except 
in the case of the first figure of the series, which is for January ist. 
By using the middle of the year quotation, we approximate to the 
period of the year to which Porter's figures are stated to apply. 



PRICES OF BEST NORTHUMBERLAND STEAM COAL, 


F.O.B. TYNE 




.. d. 




s. d. 


1871 (Jan.) 


II 


j896(July) . 


8 6 


1881 (July) 


9 


1901 (July) . 


13 


188s (July) . . 


8 


1904 (July) . 


10 3 


iSgiCJuly) . 


13 7 


1905 (July) . 


9 3 



These figures, for the later dates, include the export tax of \s. 
per ton, imposed in 1901. 

The price of household coals, rather than of steam coals, may 
perhaps be needed for carrying on the table in the text. In recent 
years the former price has generally been somewhat higher than 
the latter {v. Final Report of the Royal Commission on Coal 
Supplies, Part x, p. 135). This relation is, however, not shown in 
all years. The course of coal prices is further dealt with in a note 
at the end of the chapter (p. 90). 

1 In the First Edition of this work, a comparison was made 
between the change in the level of coal prices between 1794 
and i860 and the average change in the prices of forty of the 
chief materials of commerce. The price of coal rose in the 
proportion of 100 to 120. The fall of prices of commodities in 
general, as corrected later by the author, was in the pro- 
portion of 100 to 81. See Jevons' Investigations in Currency and 
Finance, pp. 144-5. 



86 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

Firstly, there is the limitation of the vend, an 
arrangement which used to exist among the coal 
proprietors of the North, to limit the amount sold 
by any colliery, in order that each colliery might 
have a share of the trade proportional to its 
capabilities. This combination maintained itself 
at intervals for about two centuries, and was much 
complained of because it was supposed to raise 
the price of coal. It may have had some effect, 
especially upon those better kinds of coal of which 
the price is quoted. 

Secondly, there is the practice of screening 
coals, whereby a considerable portion of the coal 
raised at the beginning of the century used to be 
separated out and burnt as waste, the whole cost 
of raising the coal being paid in the price of the 
large coal sold. Though coals are still generally 
screened, the "seconds," "nuts," and even the 
"dead small," or "slack," are usually sold for 
manufacturing purposes at prices proportional to 
the size of the coal. The total price thus returned 
is increased by more than is represented in the 
price of the large coal. 

Both the limitation of the vend and the practice 
of screening would thus tend to raise the earlier 
quotations of price of large coal, as compared with 
late quotations, and thus disguise thie real rise of 



V OF THE PRICE OF COAL 87 

price due to the growing demand and the depth 
of the mines/ 

I take it, therefore, to be pretty certain that the 
cost of the best quality of Newcastle coal has been 
considerably more than doubled within a century 
by the growing depth of the collieries. It is not 
to be said that trade is much affected by the price 
of the very best coals, which are chiefly valued 
for household purposes. But from the price of 
such coal we learn what we should have to pay 
were all coals drawn from the depths of 1,000 or 
2,000 feet or more. The mines of South Wales, 
Scotland, and Yorkshire are yet shallow (1865), 
and the coal cheap enough. The cost of the 
coal, especially, which supports the great and 
rising iron trade in South Wales and Scotland, 
is only 4^-. or s^s. per ton (1865). 

The following are some returns of the price of 
coal published by Mr. Hunt in the Mineral 
Statistics for i860 : — ■ 

Description of Coal Price per Ton 

s. d. 

Newcastle House Coal 9 o 

Steam 80 

Gas, Coking,and Manufacturing 5 6 



1 The practice of preparing the coal for market by screening, 
separating several different sizes in this way, has been carried out 
more thoroughly in recent years. The smaller sizes have been 
found quite capable of giving satisfactory results in use, when 
suitable appliances are provided, and thus the point made by 
Jevons has added emphasis at the present time. 



88 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

Description of Coal Price per Ton 

J. d. 

Derbyshire Best Coal 90 

Common 6 6 

Cost of Getting 5^. to 5 6 

North Staffordshire . Best 9 2 

Common 6 o 

Cost of Getting . . 2s. 6d. to 4 6 

Lancashire ... . Best Coal 63 

Lately 56 

South Wales and Mon- 
mouthshire .... Large Coal 66 

Small 46 

Scotland Average 4 o 

Cost of Getting 28 

The average cost of getting coal throughout 
the country was stated to be /^s. lod. per ton, not 
including profits, rent, and other charges. 

In the very various prices of coal from the 
several collieries of the Newcastle district, we 
have evidence of the rise of price due to the 
depth of mines. Shipping prices of coal are 
given in full detail in the Report of the Com- 
mittee of 1838 (p. 240); and taking the coals 
classed as Newcastle Wallsend only, we find the 
price varying from 6s. 6d. to ii.y. 6d., the nuts 
and small coal ranging down to 35. ^d. It is 
obvious that the difference of five shillings per 
ton in Wallsend coal must either be absorbed by 
the expenses of deep mining, or else it must make 
the fortune of the proprietors or workers of the 
mines. That in some cases prodigious profits are 



V OF THE PRICE OF COAL 89 

made, as in the case of the original Wallsend 
mine, is well known. But this cannot usually 
be the case, otherwise the wide areas of land yet 
known to contain untouched seams of coal of the 
finest qualities, would at once be broken up by 
speculators, who are never wanting. That deep 
mines are so deliberately opened is a sufficient 
proof that the highest prices obtained are, taking 
all mining risks and charges into account, only an 
average equivalent for the capital invested. These 
deep pits can only be undertaken at present in 
search of coal of the finest quality. The Monk- 
wearmouth Pit was sunk to win the Hutton 
seam, which yields coal of the highest possible 
character. The Dukinfield Deep Pit was under- 
taken to follow the celebrated Lancashire " Black 
Mine," a four feet seam of the finest coal, selling 
for 10^. per ton at the pit's mouth, the small coal 
returning ^s. 6d. per ton. 

The high prices, which are necessary in order 
to tempt speculators to undertake deep mining, 
afford a rough but sure indication of the effect of 
depth upon the cost of coal. When the general 
depth of coal workings has increased to 2,000 
feet, little or no coal will be sold for less than 
\os. per ton, and the choice large coal will have 
risen to a much higher price. Our iron and 



90 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

general manufacturing industries will have to 
contend with a nearly double cost of fuel. And 
when, with the growth of our trade and the 
course of time, our mines inevitably reach a 
depth of 3,000 or 4,000 feet, the increasing cost 
of fuel will be an incalculable obstacle to our 
further progress. 

Note on the Course of Coal Prices 

In order to trace the history of coal prices in 
an effective manner, it would be necessary to 
obtain quotations of the prices of coals of dif- 
ferent characters, as sold at definite places, for 
the period whose history was desired. The 
general relation of the price of coal to that of 
other commodities can, however, be shown suf- 
ficiently well by using the average export value 
of coal for the entire United Kingdom, which is 
recorded in the Report on Wholesale and Retail 
Prices prepared by the Board of Trade in 1903. 
In addition to showing the average export value 
of coal, the following table also records that for 
coal exported from Cardiff. Inasmuch as South 
Wales has taken an increasing share in the export 
trade, the comparison of the two series of prices 
will afford some clue to the degree in which the 
general average has been raised by the inclusion 



OF THE PRICE OF COAL 



91 



of a larger proportion of coal of a more valuable 
kind. The comparison of the movement of the 
price of coal with an index number of general 
price-movement introduces a point included in 
Jevons' First Edition, but omitted in the Second, 
a point which has been elaborated by the Right 
Hon. Leonard Courtney in his presidential 
address to the Royal Statistical Society in 1897. 



Years 


Average Declared Value per Ton Exported 


Sauerbeck's 
Index 




From 


Cardiff 


From United Kingdom 














Number 




Actual Value 


Proportionate 
Number 


Actual Value 


Proportionate 
Number 






s. 


d. 




s. d. 






1833-4 


7 


9i 


68-5 


7 2 


73'3 


90-5 


1835-9 


8 


4i 


74-4 


7 3 


73'9 


98-0 


1840-4 


9 


Si 


84-0 


7 3 


73-9 


92-2 


1845-9 


9 


9i 


86-9 


7 6J 


77-1 


84-6 


1850-4 


9 


H 


86-2 


7 I'i 


8i-5 


85-4 


1855-9 


10 


3 


90" I 


9 3i 


95-0 


98-4 


1860-4 


9 


ni 


88-3 


9 


91-8 


ior2 


1865-9 


II 


3 


100 


9 9\ 


100 


100 


1870-4 


16 


4^ 


1 46-2 


14 5 


147-2 


103-6 


1875-9 


II 





97-8 


10 4j 


io6-i 


gi-o 


1880-4 


10 


oi 


89-1 


9 


91-9 


83-0 


1885-9 


9 


loi 


87-6 


8 9 


89-2 


70-2 


1890-4 


12 


2 


io8-i 


II I 


II3'2 


68-6 


1895-9 


10 


5i 


92-9 


9 54 


96-6 


63'4 


1900-04 


15 


0* 


I33'3 


13 0* 


132-9 


70-6 



* These prices include export duty in and after 1901. Excluding the duty the per- 
centage figures would be about 125. 



92 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

Comparing the price of coal with prices in 
general, as represented by Mr. Sauerbeck's well- 
known index number, it will be seen that, while 
general prices stood only 2 per cent higher ^ in 
the later sixties than they had done thirty years 
before, the price of coal had risen by about 35 
per cent. 

The five-year period 1895-9 gives, within a 
very little, the lowest average price for coal of 
any consecutive five years since that which ended 
in 1889. Yet this shows a fall, as compared with 
thirty years earlier, of barely ^^ per cent., while 
average prices have fallen 36!^ per cent. The 
relative movement of coal prices and general 
prices in the thirty years preceding, and in a like 
period following, the latter half of the sixties has 
therefore been similar, though the one is shown 
by a change in the price of coal while the general 
level of prices remained almost unaltered, the 
other by a price of coal almost unchanged while 
general prices fell largely. 

The movement in coal prices has been more 
violent in the extent of its fluctuations than that 
of the average of wholesale commodities repre- 
sented in Sauerbeck's index number. The latest 
quinquennium in the table, if a deduction for coal 

' Jevons' index number makes them lower hy between 8 and 9 
per cent 



OF THE PRICE OF COAL 



93 



tax be made, would show coal at about 25 per 
cent, higher prices than in 1865-9, while the 
average of prices was nearly 30 per cent, lower. 
As small coal, under six shillings per ton, is free 
from the export duty, the deduction to be made 
for duty is somewhat less than one shilling, the 
rate per ton of the duty. It is noteworthy that, 
comparing the period 1835-9 with 1865-9, ^nd 
again comparing the latter period with 1900-04, 
the proportionate changes of price have been, 
alike for Cardiff coal and for coal exported from 
all ports, from 74 to 100 in the first period, and 
from 100 to about 133 in the second, though the 
detail of the course of prices in the intervals has 
not been precisely alike for the two series of 
quotations. A table found in the report of the 
Commission of 1871 affords a somewhat remark- 
able comparison with the above figures. It shows 
the f.o.b. values at Cardiff of large and small 
house coal, and large and small steam coal in each 
of the years 1858 to 1868 inclusive. The 
averages for the eleven years are as follows 
(Report of Committee E, Appendix, p. 211) : — 

s. d, s. d. 

House Coal, Large . . 8 9'6 Steam Coal, Large . . 9 8-2 

Small. . 5 ir5 Small. . 2 117 

The average for the same years of the figures 



94 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

of the table from which that given on page 91 
is abbreviated is, for Cardiff shipments, los. S'^^' 
per ton. The note to the quotations in the 
Commission's report states that very prime 
qualities of steam coals fetched 6d. more than the 
prices given at Cardiff. The fact that the average 
value of all kinds of coal is above the quotation 
for large steam coal illustrates the difficulty of 
obtaining satisfactory records of prices. The 
average export value of Cardiff coal in the 
table on page 91 is very close to, sometimes 
higher than, market quotations for best Welsh 
steam coal (f.o.b.) in the last thirty years also. 
The Newcastle quotations given in the note on 
p. 85 are related more naturally to the average 
export values, since the latter are in every case 
lower than the quoted prices for steam coals of 
the best quality. The difference is generally quite 
considerable. 

For the last thirty years, a figure somewhat 
more useful than the average export value can be 
given, namely, the average value at the pit's 
mouth. The annual Report on Mines and 
Quarries records this value for the years i88i2 to 
date. The data periodically ascertained for the 
determination of miners' wages in Northumber- 



OF THE PRICE OF COAL 



9S 



land and Durham afford a record extending back 
to 1875, with a further figure for April, 1871.^ 

Average Selling Price per Ton of Coal at the Pits Mouth 



Period 


Northumber- 
land 


England 


Wales 


Scotland 


United Kingdom 


Pit's 

Mouth 


Export 


1871 

1875-77 

1878-82 

1883-87 

1888-92 

1893-97 

1898-1902 

1903-04 


s.d. 

5 4-85 

6 io"o3 
4 1029 

4 io'S3 

6 298 

5 7 '93 

7 ii'ig 

6 8-03 


s. d. 

5 8* 

5 2 

6 II 

6 2i 
8 4 

7 4 


0. d. 

5 9* 
S 9i 

8 7i 
7 ij 

9 10 
9 4 


0. d. 

♦ 5* 

4 5 

5 7i 

5 6 
7 9i 

6 I 


.. d. 

5 7i* 

5 2 

7 

6 3 

8 5i 

7 S 


s. d. 

9 7i 

11 4 
8 II 

8 9 

10 Si 

9 4i 

12 6J 

11 3i 



* Year 1882 only. 

The average export value, as declared, has 
been added for comparison. It will be noticed 
that the correspondence between the figures for 
Northumberland and those for the United 
Kingdom is sufficient to justify reliance on the 
former as an indication of the general level of 
pit-mouth values for periods when the latter is 
not available. 

The following comparison of values at the pit- 
mouth in Staffordshire three-quarters of a century 
ago and at the present day is afforded by taking 

' Cf. Final Report of Commission on Coal Supplies, part x, 
p. 96, and the Labour Gazette for later figures for Northumberland, 



96 



THE COAL QUESTION 



CHAP. 



the prices given to the Select Committee on the 
Coal Trade (Port of London) Bill in 1838 by 
Mr. F. Finch. These prices relate to a single 
colliery, not to the entire county. 

Pit-Mouth Prices of Coal in Staffordshire 



Period 


Large 


Intermediate 
(Lumps) 


Small 
(Slack) 


Michaelmas / 1828-32 
Quarter \ 1833-37 


s. d. 

7 Si 
9 8 


s. d. 
3 7 

5 8 


s. d. 
2 7 
2 9* 


Period 


Average Price 


Period 


Average Price 


1883-87 
1888-92 


s. d. 

6 I 
6 10 


1893-97 
1898-I903 


s. d. 

6 7 
8 o\ 



* No quotation in 1837. 

It is not, however, the absolute level of coal 
prices in this country, or the relative movements of 
coal prices and general prices, which is the matter 
of final interest in connection with the problem 
discussed by Jevons, but, as shown in other parts 
of his treatise, the relative course of prices in Great 
Britain and elsewhere. An especial interest 
attaches to the comparison of British with 
German and American coal prices. The " Coal 
Tables " issued in recent years by the Board of 
Trade afford the following comparison of pit- 
mouth values of coal, two columns being added 
from the United States Geological Survey's 



V 



OF THE PRICE OF COAL 



97 



Mineral Resources of the United States, 1902 
(p. 324), to show separately the value of anthracite 
and bituminous coal. 



Average Value per Ton of Coal Produced 



Period 


Belgium 


France 


Germany 


United States 


United 
Kingdom 


Total 


Anthra- 
cite 


Bitu- 
minous 


1883-87 . 
18B8-92 . . 
1893-97 . . 
1898-1902 . 


J. d. 

7 2 

8 7i 
7 8 

II 2 


s. d. 
9 4^ 
9 4i 
8 io| 
II ij 


s. d. 

5 2i 

6 9i 
6 10 

8 5i 


s. d. 
6 4 
5 Si 

4 II 

5 i| 


I. d. 
9 

7 ^i 

6 II 

7 3 


I, d. 
4 i°i 
4 6} 
4 oi 
4 6 


J. d. 

5 2 

7 

6 3 

8 Si 



While no large difference is shown in the mine- 
value of coal in Germany and Great Britain, and 
the general course of values has been upwards in 
each of the countries over the period dealt with, 
the bituminous coal of the United States is pro- 
duced at a lower cost than the coal of Great 
Britain, and the advantage has largely increased 
during the period represented in the table. 

A somewhat more extensive view of the course 
of coal-values in the three principal countries 
may be secured by using data which, though not 
presenting averages for the whole country, are 
yet fairly representative of general conditions. 

The last four columns in the table on the 
following page represent facts more nearly 

H 



98 



THE COAL QUESTION chap. 



similar among themselves than any of them are 
to those represented in the first three columns 
of prices. The fact that, as their coal resources 
have been developed, the United States have 
had an increasing relative advantage over Great 



Average Price of Coal in Different Countries [per Ton) 



Period 


Northum- 
berland 


West- 
phalia 1 


France ^ 


United States 3 


Great 
Britain 


Selling Price at Mines 


Price at 
place of 
consump- 
tion 


Anthra- 
cite at 
Philadel- 
phia 


Bitumin- 
ous at 
Balti- 
more 


Export 
value 


i8s7-6i 
1867-71 . . 
1872-76 . . 
1877-81 . . 
1882-86 . . 
1887-91 . . 
1892-96 . . 
1897-igoi , 


.. d 

7 2« 

5 li 

4 iij 

5 loi 
5 II 
7 6 


I. d. 

8 8^4 
5 4 

5 9 
7 4 
7 loi 

9 2 


s. d. 

9 8 

9 6 
12 4 
10 5 

9 6 

8 iii 

9 °l 
10 4 


J. d. 

18 10 

18 7i 
22 3 

17 6 
16 6 
16 5 
15 9 

18 


s. d. 

14 2i 
18 4 

17 o\ 

14 4i 
17 9 
16 5 

15 4i 
14 9 


J. d. 
15 2 
19 8i 
18 2 
13 4 

10 10 

11 4 
9 5 
8 6 


i. d. 
9 I 
9 8 

IS 44 
9 i4 

8 II 

10 2 

9 9i 

11 loj 



J Cf. Evidence of Consul-General Mulvany before Royal Commission on Coal Supplies 
{Final Report, part x, p. 309), prices obtained at Dahlbuch Collieries, Gelsenkirchen. 
For the years 1894-1901 these prices approximate very closely to those realised by the 
Rhenish-Westphalian Coal Syndicate (cf. Evidence of Consul-General Oppenheimer 
loc, cit. , p. 297). Prices are per metric ton. * 

3 From Statisiique de V Industrie Minerale (cf. Monthly Summary ofComvterce and 
Finance of the United States, Sept., 1902, p. 728). Prices are per metric ton. 

3 Statistical Abstract of the United States, 1904, p. 460. The prices given for 
bituminous (Cumberland) coal, as well as for anthracite, appear toi-refer to the long ton 
of 2,240 lbs. 

4 Average of 1875-6 only. 

Britain, is reflecte<i in the table, while the further 
fact, also in agreement with the previsions of 
Jevons, that Germany and France have not 
gained much recently on Great Britain, if at all, 
in respect of the cost of coal mined within their 



V OF THE PRICE OF COAL 99 

own borders, is also brought out. The increase 
of the cost of coal in the Dortmund district of 
Germany is well shown in a table on p. 156 of 
Mr. Francis Walker's Monopolistic Combinations 
in the German Coal Industry, quoted from the 
Zeitschrift f. d. Berg-Hutten und Salinenwesen. 
It may be noted that R. C. Taylor's Statistics of 
Coal refers to the price of coals at the pit's mouth 
being much higher in Germany than in England. 
He quotes prices of "js. jd. per ton in Westphalia 
and ^s. per ton in England as illustrating the 
remark. These refer apparently to about the 
year 1845 i/'^^- "^- P- 5^4)- The reduction in the 
prices of coal quoted for the United States is 
largely due to reduced cost of transport. The 
freight rate from the Georges Creek district to 
Philadelphia is given in the Twenty-Second 
Annual Report of the United States Geological 
Survey, part iii. (p. 214), as $i-i8 by water, 
and $i'45 by rail, per ton to Baltimore. This 
relates to the year 1900, and is in agreement with 
quoted prices of Georges Creek coal at the mine. 
Thus more than half the price of bituminous 
coal at Baltimore, as quoted above, represents 
freight. Twenty to thirty years ago the freight 
rate was fully double that of recent years. 



H 2 



CHAPTER VI 

OF BRITISH INVENTION 

The history of discovery and invention, like 
the history of mankind in general, can never be- 
come the matter of an exact science. The exten- 
sion of the sciences and arts is the last thing that 
can be subjected to rigorous laws. Yet in a long 
course of progress, like that which marks the rise 
of civilisation in England, we may observe tend- 
encies, not free from exception, but of an instruc- 
tive kind, and bearing powerfully upon the 
general subject of our inquiry. 

The usefulness of Britain greatly depends upon 
the arts she has contributed for the benefit of 
mankind, and her own pre-eminence in the prac- 
tice of those arts. But an Englishman who goes 
with the current of insular opinion is too apt to 
assume that Britain is great in everything. There 
is no discrimination in popular opinion. As 
Shakespeare is the acknowledged poet of modern 



CH. VI OF BRITISH INVENTION loi 

times, so Francis Bacon is supposed to be the 
philosopher who brought about the revival- of 
knowledge and the arts. Now, though we have 
poets and philosophers, works and discoveries, 
which in their own way are unrivalled, we should 
remember that other nations have their triumphs 
in their way unrivalled. And if we at present 
possess a certain leading and world-wide in- 
fluence, it is not due to any general intellectual 
superiority, but to the union of certain happy 
mental qualities with material resources of an 
altogether peculiar character. 

We may observe, in the first place, that almost 
all the arts practised in England before the middle 
of the eighteenth century were of continental 
origin. England, until lately, was young and 
inferior in the arts. 

Secondly, we may observe that by far the 
greater part of the arts and inventions we have 
of late contributed, spring from our command of 
coal, or at any rate depend upon its profuse con- 
sumption. 

Such generalisations are very often subject to 
exception. Roger Bacon, for instance, is an 
illustrious exception, and it seems likely that 
there were other Englishmen in his days of lofty 
talents. Still, they drew their education and in- 



102 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

formation from the Continent, and they lived in 
such a time and place that their works were un- 
appreciated, and left no mark in the creation of 
the arts. Francis Bacon has usurped much of 
the fame due to Roger Bacon. No one in the 
least degree acquainted with the history of science 
in Europe can suppose that Francis Bacon gave 
rise to the sciences and arts which were rising 
and flourishing in Italy and France and Germany 
before his time. Great as was Bacon in many 
ways, we cannot regard him as more than a crude 
but striking expounder of the scientific tendency 
of his age. After the severe and partially true 
exposure of his claims by Baron Liebig,^ it is to 
be hoped that we shall give up some of our 
absurd national fallacies concerning him. 

How much of the arts we owe to continental 
nations, may be learnt from a simple enumera- 
tion of our principal debts. It is in Mr. Smiles' 
volumes that the history of the arts in Britain 
has been best brought to our notice. These 
volumes seem to me to be a most valuable con- 
tribution to our general history, and the facts 

' Macmillan's Mag-azzne, July, Augast, 1863. Liebig's pamphlet, 

Ueier Frajicis Bacon v. Verulam und die Methode der Natur- 

forschung, appeared originally in Munich in 1863. A like 

severe criticism is contained in A. Lasson's Ueber Baco's von 

Verulam wissenschaftliche Prinzipien, Berlin, i86o. 



VI OF BRITISH INVENTION 103 

adduced by him clearly establish that until about 
the middle of the eighteenth century we were 
wholly behindhand in all that relates to skilled 
industry, and were justly treated by the great 
advanced nations of the Continent — by Italy, 
Spain, France, and Holland — as poor, unculti- 
vated, but proud islanders. " England," he says, 
"was then regarded principally as a magazine for 
the supply of raw materials, which were carried 
away in foreign ships, and partly returned to us 
in manufactures, worked up by foreign artisans. 
We grew wool for Flanders, as America grows 
cotton for England now. Even the little manu- 
factured at home was sent to the Low Countries 
to be dyed." ^ 

Generalisations on this subject, I have said, 
are open to exceptions. It is not true that 
England made no contributions to the arts down 
to the time of the steam-engine and the coal- 
blast furnace ; but I know of only one exception, 
the knitting-frame of William Lee, a truly sin- 
gular invention of the year 1589. This invention 
is favourably mentioned by Sturtevant in his 
curious treatise on Metallurgy of the year 161 2. 
Its solitary character is shown by the fact that an 
Act prohibiting the export of stocking-frames was 

^ Smiles' Engineers, vol. i, preface, p. v. 



I04 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

passed as early as 1696,^ but that no other Act 
of the same kind was thought needful until 1750. 
It was not till 1774 that a third Act of the kind^ 
made a beginning of the general system of pro- 
hibiting the export of machinery, contrived to 
protect our rising success in the cotton, linen, and 
other manufactures. In this mistaken and illiberal 
system the English Government persevered until 
August, 1843. 

Mining is an art in which we are now at least 
eminent. But a hundred and fifty years ago, 
as most Englishmen will be surprised to learn, 
the engines and contrivances in common use in 
England were only those familiar to the Germans 
100 or 200 years before. The horse-gin, the 
double reversing water-wheel, the chain-pump, 
ventilating contrivances, such as bellows, fans, 
lamps, furnaces, together with the underground 
wheeled carriage, were introduced from Germany, 
probably by the German miners brought over in 
considerable numbers during the reigns of Eliza- 
beth and the Stuarts. These inventions, in fact, 
were described in the work of Agricola published 
in 1556, and this writer was acquainted with such 
valuable contrivances as the fly-wheel, and the 

' 7th and 8th William III, cap. xx, sec. 8 and 9. 
^ 14th Geo. Ill, cap. Ixxi. 



VI OF BRITISH INVENTION 105 

crank and beam.-' Hooson, an early writer on 
coal-mining, expressly says, " We do not know of 
anything material or useful that has been found 
out for the better, than what has been left us by 
our forefathers ; but rather much impaired by 
neglect and idleness."^ 

Gunpowder is an almost indispensable agent in 
mining, and was used by the Germans as early 
as 1613. Its use for blasting was introduced 
into this country in 1665, and, according to 
Robert Bald,'' the ancient method of drilling and 
wedging rocks open by the stook and feathers, 
without powder, was still used in Scotland at the 
beginning of the eighteenth century. 

Metallurgy is an art which we now carry out 
on a vast scale ; but, with the exception of the 
processes depending on the superior abundance 
and excellence of our coal, both the theory and 
practice of metallurgy are mainly due to the 
Germans. Dr. Percy, in the preface to his im- 
portant work on Metallurgy, drew attention to 
the fact that we had scarcely any literature on the 
subject, and must draw our information from the 
two leading works of Agricola in 1556, and 

' Taylor's Archaology of the , Coal Trade, ^p. i86, in Memoirs 
of the British ArchcBological Association, 1858. 

2 Hooson's Miner's Dictionary, 1747, quoted by Taylor, p. 187. 
5 Scotch Coal Trade, p. 12. 



io6 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

Karsten in 1 831, or from the large collection of 
monographs, periodical publications, and complete 
treatises on Metallurgy, with which the German 
language abounds. Even the Swedish physicists, 
Scheele and Berzelius, made greater contributions 
to the art than individual Englishmen can 
boast of. 

Many of the arts of working iron were drawn 
from the Continent. It will be shown in the 
chapter on the Iron Trade, that the first efforts 
towards the erection of our great iron manufac- 
ture were made by German metallurgists. It 
was Godfrey Box, of Liege, who erected at Dart- 
ford, in 1590, the first iron mill for slitting bars ; 
and from the slitting-mill was no doubt derived 
the notion of the rolling-mill as invented by Cort. 
Yarranton went to Saxony to learn the process of 
tinning iron plates, as carried on there with great 
profit, and he was allowed to engage workmen 
and to inspect all the operations of the manufac- 
ture. The making of clasp-knives was introduced 
into Sheffield in 1650, by Flemish workmen, such 
knives having been previously known as jocte- 
legs,^ from Jacques de Liege, a celebrated foreign 

' See Burns, On the late Captain Groses Peregrinations, "A 
faulding jocteleg.'' In some parts of Yorkshire a large clasp-knife 
is still known as a "jack-a-leg's knife." 



VI OF BRITISH INVENTION 107 

cutler.^ The casting of iron cannon was a French 
invention, introduced into Sussex in 1543, by- 
Peter Baude, a Frenchman, brought over by- 
Ralph Hogge, the Sussex ironmaster, who also 
employed a Flemish gunsmith, Peter Van Collet, 
to make his explosive shells.^ 

Engineering was taught us by continental 
nations until we developed our own new modes 
of engineering with iron. The Dutch, having 
redeemed their own country from the sea, were 
masters of the art of embankment, drainage, and 
inland navigation. The history of the works 
carried out by them in our fens, of the skill, 
capital, and labour they expended here, and the 
precarious profits they carried back, is to be 
found in Mr. Smiles' volumes.^ We are reminded 
of the part which English engineers and 
capitalists have been accustomed to play of late 
years in constructing the railways, canals, and 
public works of the Colonies and many foreign 
States. Even as late as 1748, we owed to 
Labelye, the Swiss architect, the reconstruction 
of the south level of the Fens, and the building 
of Westminster Bridge.* When a tidal engine 
was required to pump water from the Thames 

' Smiles' Industrial Biography, p. 68. ^ Ibid., p. 33. 

' Lives of the Engineers, vol. i, pp. 39, 40. * Ibid., p. 66. 



io8 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

for the supply of London, Peter Morice, a Dutch- 
man, was employed to erect it.^ 

Scotland was even more backward than Eng- 
land. When in 1708 windmills were wanted to 
make an attempt at draining certain Scotch coal- 
mines, John Young, the millwright of Montrose, 
was found to be the only man in the country who 
could erect windmills. He had " been sent at the 
expense of that town to Holland, in order to 
inspect the machinery of that country," and " it 
was suggested that, if this millwright could not 
be procured, application should be made to the 
Mechanical Priest in Lancashire for his advice."^ 

In maritime enterprise the British were always 
daring, but only of late have we been eminently 
expert or successful. "At a time," says Mr. 
Smiles,^ " when Spain, Holland, France, Genoa, 
and Venice were great maritime powers, England 
was almost without a fleet, the little trade which 
it carried on with other countries being conducted 
principally by foreigners. Our best ships were 
also built abroad by the Venetians or the Danes, 
but they were mostly of small tonnage, little 
bigger than modern herring boats." 

' Lives of the Engineers, preface, p. vi. 

2 Bald, Scotch Coal Trade, p. 7. 

' Lives of the Engineers, vol. i, p. 276. 



VI OF BRITISH INVENTION 109 

The herring fishery was regarded both by- 
Holland and England as the " chiefest trade 
and gold-mine," and "the way to winne wealth." 
It was thought to lead to the direct creation of 
riches, and to nourish at the same time a race of 
hardy seamen that are the pride and safeguard of 
the kingdom. But it raised unutterable feelings 
of envy and disgust in English writers of a 
century or two ago, to observe that the Dutch 
fished our own seas. Holland, " not exceeded in 
quantity by Norfolk and Suffolk, hath gotten the 
sea," bitterly says the author of The Trades 
Increase. And even when we caught a few 
herrings, we had to learn from the Flemings how 
to cure them. 

The Dutch, as is well known, were our prede- 
cessors in the general commerce of the world. A 
writer of the year 16 15 thus speaks, "Without 
love or anger, but with admiration of our neigh- 
bours, the now Sea Herrs, the nation that get 
health out of their own sicknesse, whose troubles 
begot their liberty, brought forth their wealth, 
and brought up their strength, that have, out of 
our leavings, gotten themselves a living, out of 
our wants make their own supply of trade and 
shipping there ; they coming in long after us, 
equal us in those parts in all respects of privilege 



no THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

and port ; that have devanced us so farre in ship- 
ping that the Hollanders have more than one 
hundred saile of shippes that use those ports, 
continually going and returning, and the chiefest 
matters they doe lade outward be English com- 
modities, as Tinne, Lead, and Bailes, of such like 
stuffe, as are made at Norwich." ^ 

Campbell was aware of their commercial su- 
periority. " By keeping their customs low," he 
says, " they have their warehouses always full of 
goods and manufactures of every kind. . . . 
Rough and raw materials they cleanse and sort ; 
gross and bulky commodities they import in one 
kind of vessels, divide and export them in others. 
A low interest keeps the bulk of their cash in 
trade ; working cheap, and selling at a small 
profit, secures them in continual employment."^ 
The Dutch, in short, understood the principles 
and practice of commerce, and had a free and 
far-spreading trade when we were yet sunk in 
poverty and the fallacies of the mercantile and 
restrictive systems. And it was undoubtedly the 
Venetians, Jews, and other foreign merchants of 
Lombard Street, who laid the foundations of our 
vast banking and monetary system. 

1 The Traded Increase, p. 7. 

2 Campbell's Survey, vol. i, p. 15. 



VI OF BRITISH INVENTION iii 

While we were so much inferior to continental 
nations in the fundamental operations of trade 
and industry, it is almost needless to observe, 
that in the more luxurious arts of life we were 
wholly indebted to them. " Our first cloth- 
workers, silk-weavers, and lace-workers were 
French and Flemish refugees. The brothers 
Elers, Dutchmen, began the pottery manufac- 
ture ; Spillman, a German, erected the first 
paper-mill at Dartford ; and Boomen, a Dutch- 
man, brought the first coach into England." ^ 
The name of the fabric. Brown Holland, shows 
whence we derived it. The arts, indeed, of 
weaving and whitening linen attained high perfec- 
tion in Flanders and Harlem especially, while 
the common processes of dyeing were wholly the 
work of foreigners, chiefly Germans.^ 

France was then, as now, supreme in many 
little branches of manufacture, such as those of 
glass, hats, paper, linen, sail-cloth, sword-blades, 
scissors, and many steel " toys." The "running" 
of such light articles fortunately could not be 
prevented. We also drew from them " wine, 
brandy, linen, fine lace, fine cambricks, and cam- 
brick lawns, to a prodigious value ; brocades, 

' Smiled Engineers, vol. i, preface, p. vi. 
' Barlow's Cyclopcedia, p, 521. 



112 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

velvets, and many other rich silk manufactures, 
which are either run in upon us, or come by way 
of Holland." 1 

Generally the advanced arts and knowledge 
of continental nations seem to have been com- 
municated to us without jealousy or reserve. 
Yarranton, for instance, in his tours of observa- 
tion in Holland, enjoyed every facility. Some- 
times we resorted to deceit ; as when Foley, 
according to one account, learned the art of 
splitting iron from the Swedes, and Sir Thomas 
Lombe gained the use of the water-frame in the 
silk manufacture. Such achievements, when in 
our favour, are treated as romantic and courage- 
ous adventures ; but when foreigners now come 
prying into our factories, forges, and chemical 
works, we are apt to treat them as rogues. 

Even the steam-engine cannot be claimed as 
a purely indigenous invention. But before we 
consider this point, or go on to enumerate the un- 
doubted contributions made by British inventors, 
it is necessary to discriminate the conditions of 
invention. 

There seem to be three essential conditions, 
too often confused or overlooked : — First, a dis- 

' Joshua Gee, The Trade and Navigation of Great Britain 
considered, 1738, 4th ed., p. 18. 



VI OF BRITISH INVENTION 113 

tinct PURPOSE, arising from an urgent need of 
some new means of accomplishing a definite end. 
Secondly, a new principle, or mode, by which 
it is to be accomplished. Thirdly, the material, 
power, and skill for embodying this principle in a 
successful machine, — in short, the construction. 

For instance, as a maritime nation, we felt 
during the eighteenth century the most urgent 
need of a sure method of determining the longi- 
tude of a ship at sea : here was a strong purpose. 
Astronomy pointed out several different principles 
on which it might be done, the most convenient 
principle involving the use of a good time-keeper. 
It was Harrison, of Liverpool, who, under the 
stimulus of a large Government reward, invented 
the ship's chronometer, and supplied the material 
instrument or construction of the method com- 
monly employed. 

Now, as regards the history of the steam- 
engine, there can be no doubt that an urgent 
need was felt at the beginning of the seventeenth 
century for a more powerful means of draining 
mines. Sir George Selby said in Parliament, 
as early as 16 10, that "the coal-mines of New- 
castle could not hold out the term of their lease 
of twenty-one years." ^ This was on account 

1 Taylor's Archaology of the Coal Trade, p. 1 86. 

I 



114 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

of the cost or impossibility of draining them to 
any great depth. The terms in which the 
steam-engine was first described, and the way 
in which it was actually used for nearly two 
centuries, show that the raising of water out 
of our mines was the all-important object aimed 
at — the first condition- — the purpose. 

The cheap coal, drawn from the same mines, 
was to prove the material power or third 
condition of the great invention ; but, in the 
meantime, we needed a new natural principle 
of action. Candour obliges us to allow that we 
owe this principle to science and to France. 
It is true that the English writer Hugh Platte 
had, in 1594, shown how the steam of boiling 
water might be made to issue in a powerful jet, 
sufficient to blow a fire.^ But he probably owed 
this notion to some of the works of practical 
science and ingenuity which abounded at that 
time on the Continent. No doubt Arago was 
right in insisting^ that Solomon de Caus, a 
French engineer employed by King Charles, first 
spread abroad in England scientific notions about 
raising water by the expansive force of steam. 
His work, Les Raisons des Forces Mouvantes, 

' Jewell, House of Art and Nature, No. 21 ; London. 
^ Life of Watt, 1 839, p. 46. 



VI OF BRITISH INVENTION 115 

was first published in the year 161 5, several 
years before the era of Bacon's Novum Organum. 
A print in this work shows a metallic globe, con- 
taining water heated by a fire. A long, upright, 
open pipe passes air-tight through the top of the 
globe, and terminates in the water near the 
bottom of the globe. The water, urged by the 
expansive force of the steam within the globe, is 
represented as issuing forcibly from the top of 
the pipe. A second edition of the work appeared 
in 1624; and in 1644 was published, at London, 
by Isaac de Cans, a partial reprint, distinctly 
entitled Nouvelle Invention de lever I'Eau} 

Now, considering that the earliest patents 
which apparently refer to a steam-engine are of 
the years 1628 and 1631 ;^ that the Marquis of 
Worcester's " water-commanding engine " and 
his almost prophetic statements were of the year 
1663 ; that Sir S. Morland's proposals were made 
in 1683 ; and Thomas Savery's success achieved 
in 1698, — it is hard to deny that we owe the 
engine, as regards the second or scientific con- 
dition, to a French work. 

The Marquis of Worcester's engine was the 

> Dircks in his Life of the Marquis of Worcester strangely over- 
looked this work of Isaac de Caus. 

2 Rymer's Fcedera, vols, xviii p. 992, xix pp. 236 and 239 ; or, 
Calendars \of the State Paper Office, Domestic Series, 1629-31, 
pp. 396, 483- 

I 2 



ii6 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

first which we know to have been really con- 
structed. Its purpose is clearly stated in the 
"Exact and True Definition," by "an antient 
Servant of his Lordship." 

" There being, indeed, no place but either 
wanteth water, or is overburdened therewith, 
(and) by this engine either defect is remediable." 
Its principle, there is little doubt, was that 
enunciated by De Caus, from whom it was in all 
probability derived. For, as Dircks admits,^ and 
as it was perfectly right and wise to do, the 
Marquis " evidently availed himself of every 
suggestion that either reading, accident, experi- 
ence, or travel, threw into his way." With the 
construction of Worcester's Engine we are not 
acquainted, but it seems to have been in part 
due to his assistant Caspar Kaltoff, a Dutchman 
and an "unparalleled workman both for trust 
and skill." 

It is in Thomas Savery's description of his 
engine that we can most clearly discriminate the 
conditions of the great invention. The purpose 
was clearly to raise water and drain mines, as 
indicated by the title of his excellent little pub- 
lication, The Miners Friend, but most explicitly 
stated within. " I do not doubt," he says,^ "that, 

1 H. Dircks, Life of Worcester, p. 354. 2 pg^gg 5 



VI OF BRITISH INVENTION 117 

in a few years, it will be a means of making our 
mining trade, which is no small part of the wealth 
of this kingdom, double if not treble to what it 
now is." He continues,^ — " The coals used in 
this engine are of as little value as the coals 
commonly burned on the mouths of the coal-pits 
are ; " and " the charge of them is not to be 
mentioned, when we consider the vast quantity 
of water raised, by the inconsiderable value of 
the coals used, and burned in so small a furnace." 
Here we have the most distinct statement that 
the purpose of the engine was to use the waste 
and valueless slack coals to overcome the great 
obstacle to the progress of our mines. The 
position which Savery contemplated for his en- 
gine was clearly the mouth of a coal-pit. 

As to the principle of the invention, it was 
that of De Caus, with the additional use of the 
vacuum, which may have been the discovery of 
Savery himself It is, however, in the construc- 
tion of the machine that Savery's highest credit 
seems to lie. "I have met," he says,^ "with 
great difficulties and expense to instruct handi- 
craft artificers to forme my engine, according to 
my design." And whoever examines the picture 

1 Pages 35, 36. 

2 Miner's Friend, Prefatory Address to the Royal Society. 



ii8 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

of his engine, either in the original work or in 
copies, will be struck by the very compact and 
workmanlike form of the machine, which would 
be a creditable piece of mechanism even at the 
present day. There is no doubt that by this 
time the use of cheap and excellent coal at 
Wolverhampton, Birmingham, and Sheffield, had 
enabled our artisans to acquire remarkable skill in 
the working of metals ; ^ and it is to this facility 
of construction, joined to the principle published 
by De Caus, but especially to the strong purpose 
and incitement offered by the condition of our 
coal-mines, that I should attribute the complete 
invention of the steam-engine. 

Savery's engine was extremely wasteful of 
heat, because the steam came into contact, not 
only with the cold vessel, but also with the 
cold water to be moved. It was so uneconomical, 
that, in spite of the cheapness of coals, it could 
not come into common use. Denis Papin, a 
French refugee, and an engineer of the highest 
mechanical talents, discovered and published, be- 
fore the Royal Society in 1699, the new principle 
required to perfect the engine, that of a piston 

1 See Dr. Plot's account of the artisans of Wolverhampton, 
Walsall, and the Neighbourhood, Natural History of Staffordshire, 
p. 376 ; also Smiles' Lives of Boulton and Watt, p. 163. 



VI OF BRITISH INVENTION 119 

intervening between the steam and the water. 
But the Frenchman was deficient in constructive 
power, and it was reserved for Newcomen to 
accomplish the atmospheric engine, which was 
found to be capable of draining our mines and 
reviving our industry. 

The subsequent steps in the improvement of 
the engine consisted chiefly in methods of using 
the steam more economically. They will be con- 
sidered in the following chapter. 

The atmospheric engine, perfected in some 
mechanical details by Smeaton, was employed 
throughout the eighteenth century, not only to 
drain the coal and Cornish mines, but, in the 
absence of the crank and the sun and planet 
wheels of Watt, to raise water to turn water- 
wheels in places where a natural supply of water 
was deficient, an employment anticipated by 
Ramsey, Worcester, Morland, and Savery. 

The engine, from an early period of its history, 
turned the tide of the arts. As Briavoinne re- 
marks,^ it was indispensable that other nations 
should follow England in adopting this newly 
found power; and, between 1722 and 1733, the 
first engine was sent from England to Belgium, 

1 Briavoinne, De V Industrie en Belgique, Bruxelles, 1839, 
p. 201. 



120 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

and set to work by the aid of English me- 
chanics.^ 

Its effect upon the English mines was extra- 
ordinary. " The steam-engine produced a new 
era in the mining and commercial interests of 
Britain, and, as it were in an instant, put every 
coal-field, which was considered as lost, within 
the grasp of its owners. Collieries were opened 
in every district, and such has been the astonish- 
ing effect produced by this machine, that great 
coal was shipping free on board in the River 
Forth, in the year 1785, at 4.?. lod. per ton; that 
is, after a period of seventy years, coals had only 
advanced 2d. per ton, while the price of labour 
and all materials was doubled." ^ 

Of hardly less importance than the steam- 
engine are the new modes of conveyance, gra- 
dually introduced or discovered here, during the 
last two hundred and fifty years. Common roads, 
worth calling such, only began to be made in the 
middle of the eighteenth century, when the enter- 
prise of the country was roused by the new 
influence of steam and iron. Between 1760 and 
1774, no fewer than 452 Acts for making or 

^ ToAXx^z, MinioiresurV Introduction des Machines i Vapeur dans 
le Hainaut. Quoted by Briavoinne, p. 226. 
''■ Bald, Scotch Coal Trade, p. 24. 



VI OF BRITISH INVENTION 121 

repairing highways passed through Parliament ; ^ 
and it is necessary to read Mr. Smiles' volume 
to form a notion of the previous wretched state 
of our communications. Common roads, however, 
have little further connexion with our subject. 

Canals might also seem utterly disconnected 
from the use of coal. Certainly, both in principle 
and construction, they have nothing to do with 
it. Holland, France, Sweden, and Russia had 
created and developed, on a large scale, the art 
of making canals long before we had a single 
canal. Holland enjoyed a magnificent system 
of artificial water communication. France had 
connected the Loire and Seine, the Loire and 
Sa6ne and the Atlantic Ocean with the Mediter- 
ranean ; Peter the Great had constructed a canal 
from the Don to the Volga. 

But until coal supplied the purpose there was 
not spirit enough in this country to undertake 
so formidable a work as a canal. In spite of 
Yarranton's demonstration of the advantages of 
inland navigation, the first true canal Act was 
that passed in 1755 for making the Sankey Brook 
Cut, to enable the coal of St. Helen's to reach 
the Mersey. This small work drew the Duke of 
Bridgewater's attention to the profit to be derived 

> Smiles' Zzw^J of the Engineers^ vol. i, p. 206. 



122 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

from a more economical mode of conveying coal 
to Manchester. In getting an Act passed to cut 
the celebrated canal from his mines at Worsley 
to Salford, he bound himself not to charge more 
freight on coal than 2s. 6d., the previous cost of 
carriage having been 9^. or io5'. The opening of 
the canal at once reduced the price of coal in 
Manchester, from jd. per cwt. (120 lbs.) to 2,^d. ;' 
and it is impossible to say how much such a re- 
duction may not have contributed to the growth 
of industry in this great centre. And, while one 
branch carried fuel, the other branch of this 
grand work was carried from Manchester to the 
Mersey, in order that raw materials might be 
brought into conjunction with the fuel, and the 
finished products conveyed back. The Duke of 
Bridgewater's view of the innate power of England 
was clearly shown in his saying that " a navigation 
should always have coals at the heels of it." ^ 

Railroads, however, are perhaps our great, and, 
it would seem, our purely indigenous invention. 
The principle involved is little more than that of 
a wheel upon a hard road, but it is surprising 
how entirely the development of the principle 
has been connected with our coal trade. The 

' Smiles' Lives of the Engineers, vol. i, pp. 344 — 361. 
^ Ibid. vol. i, p. 401. 



VI OF BRITISH INVENTION 123 

first known use of the rail is due to Beaumont, 
in the year 1630. This gentleman went to New- 
castle at a period of our history when enterprise 
and ingenuity seemed the rule. But his merits 
and his reward are summed up in a quaint 
passage : — " One Master Beaumont, a gentleman 
of great ingenuity and rare parts, adventured 
into the mines of Northumberland with his 
;^30,ooo, and brought with him many rare 
engines, not then known in that shire, and 
waggons with one horse, to carry down coals from 
the pits to the river ; but within a few years he 
consumed all his money, and rode home upon his 
light horse." 

The early rails were simple bars of wood, laid 
parallel upon wooden sleepers or embedded in 
the ordinary track to diminish friction. They 
were gradually introduced into the other coal 
districts of Wales, Cumberland, and Scotland — 
at Whitehaven as early as 1738. It was soon 
found that a slip of iron, nailed upon the wooden 
rail, was economical in preventing wear ; and 
when the abundance of iron had been increased 
by the coal-blast furnace, rails made entirely of 
iron were substituted. Such iron rails were first 
used by Reynolds at the Coalbrookdale works, the 
birthplace of the smelting furnace, to facilitate 



124 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

the conveyance of coal and ore. In 1776, again, 
a cast-iron tramway, or plate-way, was introduced 
into the underground workings of the Duke of 
Norfolk's colliery, at Sheffield, by John Curr, 
whose writings prove his perception of the im- 
portance of the improvement.-' It was in 1789 
that William Jessop made a railway at Lough- 
borough, with cast-iron edge rails, and a flange 
transferred to the waggon wheel. Finally, in 1820, 
nearly two hundred years after the employment 
of wooden rails, wrought-iron rails, invented by 
Mr. Birkenshaw, were rolled at the Bedlington 
iron-works, on the river Blyth, near Newcastle.^ 

But the railway was incomplete without steam 
power. Every one knows the history of the loco- 
motive — that it was brought into successful use 
by George Stephenson, the colliery engineman, 
for the purpose of leading coals from the pit to 
the shipping place ; that, after long exertions, it 
was proved more economical than horse-power, 
and that when the growing goods traffic between 
the coal-driven factories of Manchester and the 
port at Liverpool had altogether exceeded the 
powers of the canal, a railway was undertaken 
which led to our present system. 

' Coal Vie7ver's and Engi?ie Builder's Practical Co7npa?iion, 1797. 
^ Report of British Association, 1863, p. 760. 



VI OF BRITISH INVENTION 125 

Throughout the history, then, of this great 
and indigenous invention, we constantly find the 
purpose and construction aHke dependent on the 
working of coal. The conveyance of great 
weights of coal was the purpose ; the energy that 
is in coal, and the cheap iron it yields, supplied 
the constructive means of accomplishing that pur- 
pose. Not unnaturally, then, was Newcastle the 
cradle of the railway system. 

Although, in later years, railways have been 
extended through purely agricultural countries, 
such as Russia or the Western States of North 
America, yet we may observe, in many places, 
and especially in England, that the rapid ex- 
tension of railways is mainly due to the traffic 
and wealth occasioned by the use of coal in 
manufactures. It was long ago observed by a 
writer on the coal trade, that " the numerous 
canals and conveyances from the distant parts 
of the kingdom, and to local stations, owe their 
existence to the wealth acquired by the use of 
coal." ^ Now, if a series of railway-maps of 
Great Britain, for the last [sixty or seventy] years, 
be closely examined, it will be apparent, not only 
that the railway system was developed on the 
coal-fields, but that it yet converges upon them, 

' C. Beaumont, Treatise on the Coal Trade, 1789, p. 2. 



126 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

just as the arteries and veins of the animal body 
converge upon the heart and lungs. The densely 
crowded lines of railway around Newcastle, 
Manchester, and Wolverhampton form the heart 
of the railway system. There are, indeed, 
several great aortal lines which connect the coal- 
fields with each other or with the metropolis, the 
head of the body ; or the metropolis with the 
Continent ; but in every other direction, it will 
be observed that the railway system becomes 
sluggish in proportion to its distance from a 
coal-field, the traffic subdividing and dwindling 
away like the arterial streams of the animal body. 
For many years the least successful railways were 
the Great Western, the Great Eastern, and other 
lines of railway which run into the most purely 
agricultural parts of the kingdom. Wise and 
far-seeing, then, were the favourite notions of 
George Stephenson : — " The strength of Britain," 
he used to say, "lies in her iron and coal-beds ; 
and the locomotive is destined, above all other 
agencies, to bring it forth. The Lord Chancellor 
now sits upon a bag of wool, but wool has long 
ceased to be emblematical of the staple com- 
modity of England. He ought to sit upon a bag 
of coals." ^ 

^ Smiles' Engineers, vol. iii, p. 357. 



VI OF BRITISH INVENTION 127 

As regards bridges, the command of iron has 
given us advantages of construction never before 
enjoyed. Italian and French engineers were 
altogether our superiors in bridge-building until 
near the end of the eighteenth century ; but they 
failed, as in an instance at Lyons in 1755, in iron 
bridges, " chiefly because of the inability of the 
early founders to cast large masses of iron, and 
also because the metal was then more expensive 
than either stone or timber." ^ The first iron 
bridge was erected at Coalbrookdale by Messrs. 
Reynolds and Darby in 1777 ; and we know what 
has since been accomplished in the construction 
of iron bridges, when the extension of roads and 
railways presented an adequate purpose. 

Iron presents the necessary material condition 
of several things, which would not be supposed 
to be dependent on it. The supply of water 
depends on the use of iron pipes. When Sir H. 
Middleton had brought the New River to London, 
he found the distribution of the water a matter 
of the greatest difficulty — the old wooden pipes 
wasting one-fourth of the supply, and being 
subject to rapid decay.^ Coal-gas, again, itself 
an important product of coal, could not be used 

' Smiles' Engineers, vol. ii, p. 355. 
^ Ibid. vol. i, p. 126. 



128 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

in its present abundance and economy, without 
the use of iron distributing-pipes/ 

A more important use of iron is in the develop- 
ment of mechanical engineering in general. Our 
inventions for spinning and weaving by machinery 
are not, in their origin, dependent on coal. 
The early mills were turned by water, and in- 
volved but little iron work. The development 
and perfection of our factory system, however, 
could never have been carried far without abun- 
dance of iron. " The inventions of Arkwright, 
Crompton, and others," says Mr. Fairbairn,^ 
" could not have been executed but for iron ; and 
it is fortunate for the industrial resources of the 
country, that the manufacture of iron has kept 
pace with our industrial progress. I am not 
able to state the amount of consumption of iron 
in machine-making alone, but taking that for 
cotton machinery in only one of our largest 
firms, that of Messrs. Piatt and Co. of Oldham, 
I should average it at 400 or 500 tons per week ; 
and in that of my late brother. Sir Peter Fair- 
bairn, of Leeds, in flax and other machines, at 
250 to 300 tons per week." 

' Hea.rn's PluMogy, 1864, p. 193. 

^ Two Lectures on Iron and its Applications, Newcastle, 1864,, 
p. IS. 



VI OF BRITISH INVENTION 129 

In some of the old water-mills, yet working in 
remote country places, we may see ponderous 
wooden shafts, spindles, and wheels, which seem 
hardly adapted now-a-days to receive motion, 
much less to communicate it. Brindley was 
brought up as a millwright, in the use of wood, 
and long clung to it — even making wooden- 
hooped cylinders for engines, which were natu- 
rally apt to break down. But having at last 
discarded brick, stone, and wood, he constructed 
in 1763, at Coalbrookdale, an engine that was 
a " complete and noble piece of iron-work." ^ 
Smeaton carried forward the substitution of iron 
for wood ; but it was Rennie who established its 
general use, in his celebrated Albion Mills, the 
whole of his wheels and shafts being made of 
cast-iron. We find, then, in cast-iron, a material 
condition which allowed a general advance in the 
construction of our machines. 

A second substitution, however, took place, of 
wrought-iron for cast-iron. It was Mr. Fairbairn 
who chiefly introduced the use of light wrought- 
iron shafting for heavy, slow, cast-iron work, and 
thus effected a general economy and advance in 
the employment of machine power, almost com- 



1 Smiles' Engineers, vol. i, pp. 332, 333. 

K 



130 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

parable with that of Brindley, Smeaton, and 
Rennie.^ 

[The use of steel, since the perfecting of the 
Bessemer process has afforded a cheap and 
abundant supply, has occasioned] a third, and as 
far as we can see, a final substitution of steel for 
nearly every other material ; so that our machines 
are carried to an apparent maximum of efficiency, 
economy, and elegance, as regards the material 
of our works.^ 

The shaping and moulding of iron, on the 
large scale, demanded a wholly new set of 
arrangements, A purpose having arisen for new 
inventions, the ancient principles of the lathe, 
the hammer, and the plane were developed by 
workmen such as Bramah, Maudslay, Clements, 
Roberts, Whitworth, Nasmyth, and Wilson. 
Thus there gradually grew up a system of 
machine-tool labour, the substitution of iron 
hands for human hands, without which the 
execution of engines and machines, in their 
present perfection and size, would be impossible. 

1 Fairbairn on Mills and Mill-work. 

2 The language of anticipation used by Jevons in regard to this 
further change, may now be replaced by that expressing attain- 
ment. It was nearly a decade after he wrote before the improved 
processes of manufacture had so far reduced the cost of steel as to 
make steel rails cheaper than wrought-iron rails. (See also 
Chap. XV.) 



VI OF BRITISH INVENTION 131 

" When I first entered this city," said Mr. 
Fairbairn, in his address to the British Asso- 
ciation at Manchester, in 1861, "the whole of 
the machinery was executed by hand. There 
were neither planing, slotting, nor shaping 
machines ; and, with the exception of very imper- 
fect lathes, and a few drills, the preparatory 
operations of construction were effected entirely 
by the hands of the workmen. Now every- 
thing is done by machine tools with a degree of 
accuracy which the unaided hand could never 
accomplish." 

Any one who reflects upon what has been 
brought to pass by the use of abundant iron will 
agree with the remark of Locke, that "he who 
first made known the uses of iron may be truly 
styled the Father of Arts, and the Author of 
Plenty." Such has been our work in recent 
times. 

It would be absurd to try to follow out in detail 
the mechanical contrivances of the present age. 
Reflection will show that they are mainly but the 
completions of a system of machine labour, in 
which steam is the motive power, and iron the 
fulcrum and the lever. The principles of science 
involved are in no way our own property, being 
quite as successfully studied|on the^Continent as 

K 2 



132 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

here. But from the cheapness of coal and iron we 
have had a pecuHar advantage in developing their 
use ; and therefore all the details of machine con- 
struction are pushed forward in one great system, 
of which no part can advance far without the rest. 

The Britannia Bridge, our truest national 
monument, " was the result of a vast combination 
of skill and industry. But for the perfection of 
our tools, and the ability of ;our mechanics to use 
them to the greatest advantage ; but for the 
matured powers of the steam-engine ; but for the 
improvements in the iron manufacture, which 
enabled blooms to be puddled of sizes before 
deemed impracticable, and plates and bars of 
immense size to be rolled and forged ; but for 
these the Britannia Bridge would have been 
designed in vain. Thus it was not the product of 
the genius of the railway engineer alone, but of 
the collective mechanical genius of the English 
nation ; " ^ and Mr. Robert Stephenson himself 
said, " The locomotive is not the invention of one 
man, but of a nation of mechanical engineers." ^ 

There is no better example of what our united 
inventions can accomplish than the iron or steel 
screw steam-vessel, the product of coal from truck 
to keel — hull, engines, masts, rigging, anchors. 

1 Smiles' Engineers, vol. iii, p. 440. 2 /^^'i/. p. 8. 



VI OF BRITISH INVENTION 133 

Of this product of our industry, Mr. Porter re- 
marlied, that " it was one in which our mineral 
riches and our great mechanical skill will secure to 
us a virtual monopoly." ^ But we cannot forget 
that a steam-vessel is endowed with a constant 
and voracious appetite for coal, that must fearfully 
accelerate the drain upon our mines. 

There yet remains a whole class of inventions, 
of a chemical rather than a mechanical nature, 
where a substance has to be altered in its intimate 
constitution, instead of its outward form. In these 
inventions iron is in a very minor degree useful ; 
and accordingly, it can hardly be asserted that in 
the chemical and experimental sciences and arts 
we are more than barely equal to the French or 
Germans. Photography, for instance, presents 
an instance of equal progress in several different 
nations. 

Many remarkable instances have occurred of 

' Progress of the Nation^ p. 577 (ed. of 1 851). In the former 
editions, the text included the following lines at this point : — " And 
any one who considers the present progress of iron ship-building 
in this country must see that half a century hence our chief ocean 
conveyances will be wholly by steam. Sailing vessels will not be 
entirely discarded, but will occupy a subordinate rank, similar to 
that of canal boats and coasting vessels, Our world-wide com- 
munications will be improved in a degree now perhaps unthought 
of." The attainment of the supremacy of steamships over sailing 
ships makes the passage superfluous in the text. It so well illus- 
trates the accuracy of Jevons' grasp of the conditions of our 
maritime trade that it seems undesirable to omit it entirely. 



Missing Page 



Missing Page 



136 THE COAL QUESTION ch. vi 

coal is in the ice-machine, two kinds of which, 
of French and English invention respectively, 
were at work in the Exhibition of 1862. By such 
machines, we may make fire, in the hottest climate, 
produce the cold of the Polar Regions ! 

With fuel and fire, then, almost anything is 
easy. By its aid in the smelting furnace or the 
steam-engine we have effected, for more than a 
century past, those successive substitutions of a 
better for a worse, a cheaper for a dearer, a new 
for an old process, which advance our material 
civilisation. But when this fuel, our material 
energy, fails us, whence will come the power to 
do equal or greater things in the future ? A man 
cannot expect that because he has done much 
when in stout health and bodily vigour, he will 
do still more when his strength has departed. 
Yet such is the position of our national body, 
unless either the source of our strength be carefully 
spared, or something can be found better than 
coal to replace it, and carry on the substitution of 
the better for the worse. Whether the con- 
sumption of coal can be kept down in our free 
system of industry, or whether in the process of 
discovery we ca,n expect to find some substitute 
for coal, must next be considered. The dispas- 
sionate conclusion will be far from satisfactory. 



CHAPTER VII 

OF THE ECONOMY OF FUEL 

It is very commonly urged, that the failing 
supply of coal will be met by new modes of using 
it efficiently and economically. The amount of 
useful work got out of coal may be made to 
increase manifold, while the amount of coal con- 
sumed is stationary or diminishing. We have 
thus, it is supposed, the means of completely 
neutralising the evils of scarce and costly fuel.^ 
It is shown, in fact, by the mechanical theory of 
heat, that a good engine of the present day does 
not convert into useful work more than one-sixth 
part of the energy developed in the combustion 
of the coal consumed.^ In furnaces, too, the 

' See for instance the remarks of Waterston in his Cyclofcedia 
.of Commerce, 1846, pp. 163, 164. 

''■ A pound of coal may be taken as yielding 13,500 thermal units 



138 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

portion of heat actually used is a small and often 
infinitesimal fraction of the heat wasted ; and in 
the domestic use of coal, in open grates, at least 
four-fifths of the heat escapes up the chimney 
unheeded. 

I speak not here of the domestic consumption 
of coal. This is undoubtedly capable of being 
cut down without other harm than curtailing our 
home comforts, and somewhat altering our con- 
firmed national habits. The coal thus saved 
would be, for the most part, laid up for the use 
of posterity. But even if our population could 
be induced to abstain from the enjoyment of a 
good fire, the saving effected would not extend 
over more than about [one-fifth] part of the total 
consumption of coal ; the domestic consumption 
being, on an average, about [fifteen hundred- 
weights] per annum per head of the population. 
Of the other [four-fifths] nearly a [quarter] is used 
in our iron manufactures ; and the remainder in 



in burning, which is equivalent to 13,500x772=10,422,000 foot- 
pounds of work. One-sixth part of this is 1,737,000 foot-pounds. 
One horse-power exerted for one hour is equivalent to 1,980,000 
foot-pounds. To utilise one-sixth of the heat of combustion, it 
would be necessary to develop a horse-power by the consumption 
of i'i4 lbs. coal per hour. The most economical result so far 
attained with steam-engines is a consumption of '97 lb. of coal per 
horse-power hour. An engine may be called good even though 
consuming double this amount {cf. also footnote, p. 148). 



VII OF THE ECONOMY OF FUEL 139 

our factories, furnaces, and machine shops gene- 
rally.i 

' The following table shows the distribution of the uses of coal 
as reported by the two Royal Commissions : — 



Coal Consumption 




Tons 




1869 


1903 


Railways (all purposes) . 


2,030,000 


13,000,000 


General Manufacture 


22,780,000 


53,000,000 


Mines and Collieries . 


7,200,000 


18,000,000 


Iron and Steel Industries 


32,450,000 


28,000,000 


Other Metals and Minerals . ... 


860,000 


1,000,000 


Brick, Pottery, Glass, and Chemical Works . 


3,060,000 


5,000,000 


Gas Works 


6,300,000 


15,000,000 


Domestic Consumption 


18,480,000 


32,000,000 


Coasting Steamers (bunkers) 


1,200,000 


2,000,000 


Home Consumption , 


94,360,000 


167,000,000 


Foreign-going Steamers (bunkers) 


2,080,000 


16,800,000 


Exported (Coal, Coke, and Patent Fuel) 


10,960,000 


47,000,000 


Total raised 


107,427,557 


230.3341469 



The totals have been given in exact figures, though for the 
details the plan followed in the 1904 report, of rounding off the 
figures, has been partially adopted for the 1869 figures also. The 
figure of exports in the 1871 report has been replaced by a figure 
computed, like that for 1903, to include the coal equivalent of coke 
and patent fuel exported, not coal only. This necessitated an 
adjustment of the figure for general manufacture, in order not to 
make the total too great. The amount given as used on steam- 
ships in the 1871 report is 3,277,562 tons. For comparison with 
the later date it seemed better to divide this into that used by 
foreign-going and by coasting steamers respectively. The former 
has been computed on the basis of tonnage of steam-vessels 
cleared, allowing a proportion of bunker coal about 10 per cent 
greater than that reported in and after 1873. The allowance 
is, perhaps, somewhat too small. The remainder of the 1871 
Commission's allowance for steam-ships is placed under the head- 
ing " coastwise." It seems too large relatively, and if an indepen- 
dent estimate had been required would have been considerably 

less. 

It will be observed that, in the estimate for 1869, the domestic 
consumption, which Jevons originally estimated at one ton per 



I40 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

But the economy of coal in manufactures is a 
different matter. It is wholly a confusion of ideas 
to stippose that the economical use of fuel is equi- 
valent to a diminished consumption. The very 
contrary is the truth. 

As a rule, new modes of economy will lead to 
an increase of consumption according to a prin- 
ciple recognised in many parallel instances. The 
economy of labour effected by the introduction 
of new machinery throws labourers out of em- 
ployment for the moment. But such is the 
increased demand for the cheapened products, 
that eventually the sphere of employment is 
greatly widened. Often the very labourers whose 
labour is saved find their more efficient labour 
more demanded than before. Seamstresses, for 
instance, have perhaps in no case been injured, 
but have often gained wages before unthought 
of by the use of the sewing-machine, for which 
we are so much indebted to American inventors. 

So it is a familiar rule of finance that the 



inhabitant, is allowed for at about 1 2 cwts. per head of the population, 
and in that for 1903, at about 15 cwts. per head. The consumption 
of coal in the iron and steel industries, which was one-third of the 
entire home consumption in 1869, was only one-sixth of the whole 
in 1903. 

{Cf. Report of Coal Commission, 1871 : Report of Committee 
E, p. iv, and pp. 204-5, ^-nd Final Report of Commission on Coal 
Supplies, 1904, § 68.) 



VII OF THE ECONOMY OF FUEL 141 

reduction of taxes and tolls leads to increased 
gross and sometimes even increased net re- 
venues ; and it is a maxim of trade, that a low 
rate of profits, with the multiplied business it 
begets, is more profitable than a small business 
at a high rate of profit. 

Now the same principles apply, with even 
greater force and distinctness, to the use of such 
a general agent as coal. It is the very economy 
of its use which leads to its extensive consump- 
tion. It has been so in the past, and it will be 
so in the future. Nor is it difficult to see how 
this paradox arises. 

The number of tons of coal used in any branch 
of industry is the product of the number of 
separate works, and the average number of tons 
consumed in each. Now, if the quantity of coal 
used in a blast-furnace, for instance, be diminished 
in comparison with the yield, the profits of the 
trade will increase, new capital will be attracted, 
the price of pig-iron will fall, but the demand for 
it increase ; and eventually the greater number of 
furnaces will more than make up for the dim- 
inished consumption of each. And if such is not 
always the result within a single branch, it must 
be remembered that the progress of any branch 
of manufacture excites a new activity in most 



142 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

other branches, and leads indirectly, if not 
directly, to increased inroads upon our seams of 
coal.^ 

It needs but little reflection to see that the 
whole of our present vast industrial system, and 
its consequent consumption of coal, has chiefly 
arisen from successive measures of economy. 

Civilisation, says Baron Liebig, is the economy 
of power ^ and our power is coal. It is the very 
economy of the use of coal that makes our 
industry what it is ; and the more we render 
it efficient and economical, the more will our 
industry thrive, and our works of civilisation grow. 

The steam-engine is the motive power of this 
country, and its history is a history of successive 

' The argument that economy of fuel in the blast furnace means 
increased consumption of coal owing to the increase of demand for 
iron has been assailed as in conflict with experience. (Cf. for 
example, Mr. Mundella's paper and the discussion on it in the 
Statistical Society's Journalior 1878, a discussion in which Jevons 
took part.) Apart from the considerations covered by the final 
phrases of the above paragraph, it may be suggested that the 
conditions which bring about cheapness may distribute the 
enlarged demand among widely separated groups of producers. 
We cannot exclude other nations from the use of efficient processes. 
This point is one on which Jevons laid no little stress. The 
world's production of pig-iron increased from about 1 1,750,000 tons 
in 1869 to about 46,500,000 tons in 1903 under the influence of 
cheapness, the consumption of coal in iron and steel manufacture 
being probably about doubled in the interval. That the increased 
direct demand for coal did not fall on the coalfields of Great 
Britain is true, but does not destroy the general force of the 
argument advanced. 



VII OF THE ECONOMY OF FUEL 143 

steps of economy. Savery recommended his 
engine for its cheap drawing of water and small 
charge of coals. But, as he allowed the steam 
to act straight upon the water, without the in- 
tervention of a piston, the loss of heat was tre- 
mendous. Practically, the cost of working kept 
it from coming into use ; it consumed no coal, be- 
cause its rate of consumption was too high} New- 
comen made the first step towards the future use 
of the engine by interposing a piston, rod, beam, 
and pump between the steam and water. It was 
asserted that mines formerly drowned out and 
abandoned might sometimes, when coal was very 
cheap, be profitably drained by his rude atmo- 
spheric engine. But when Brindley went to 
Wolverhampton, to inspect one of these engines, 
he formed the opinion "that, unless the con- 
sumption of coal could be reduced, the extended 
use of this steam-engine was not practicable, by 
reason of its dearness, as compared with the 
power of horses, wind, or air." ^ 

Smeaton, the most philosophical of engineers, 
after a careful study of the atmospheric engine, 
succeeded in nearly doubling its efficiency. The 
engine had long been hanging on the verge of 

1 Farey, Treatise on the Steam-Engine, p. 117. 

2 Smiles' Engineers, vol. i, pp. 329, 330. 



144 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

commercial possibility ; he brought it into suc- 
cessful use, and made it both possible and profit 
able. But in this branch of his art he willingly 
gave place to that even greater man, who, after 
long continued scientific and practical labours, 
made the steam-engine the agent of civilisation. 
I need hardly say that Watt's two chief inven- 
tions, of the condenser and the expansive mode of 
working, are simply two modes of economising 
heat. The double cylinder of Woolf, the method 
of surface-condensing, of super-heating, etc., are 
other inventions directed to economy of coal. 
To save the loss of heat in the boiler, and the 
loss of power by friction, are two other points of 
economy, to which numberless inventions are 
directed. And with the exception of contri- 
vances, such as the crank, the governor, and the 
minor mechanism of an engine, necessary for 
regulating, transmitting, or modifying its power, 
it may be said that the whole history of the steam- 
engine is one of economy. 

" The economy of fuel is the secret of the 
economy of the steam-engine ; it is the fountain 
of its power, and the adopted measure of its 
effects. Whatever, therefore, conduces to in- 
crease the efficiency of coal, and to diminish the 
cost of its use, directly tends to augment the 



VII OF THE ECONOMY OF FUEL 145 

value of the steam-engine, and to enlarge the 
field of its operations."^ 

The result of these efforts at economy is clearly- 
exhibited in a table [showing the number of pounds 
of coal consumed by engines at different periods 
for each horse-power developed. 

Coal Consumption per Horse-Power per Hour^ 

Lbs. of Coal 
1769 • .... 30 

1772 i7'6 



1S25 
1850 

1875 

1900 



lO'O 
5-9 

2-5 

I'O 



] 



In less than one hundred years, then, the 
efficiency of the engine has been increased at 

' C. W. Williams, The Combustion of Coal, 1841, p. 9. 

2 For the two earlier dates the figures used are the same as those 
in Jevons' table given below. For the nineteenth century the 
figures are from a paper by Mr. W. M. McFarland in the Engineer- 
ing Magazine, 1902, p. 215. "It will be understood," says this 
writer, " of course, that the figures are simply close approxima- 
tions, and the years selected are for convenient periods." The 
results, too, are representative rather of the best practice of each 
period than of average ordinary experience. In Herman Haeder's 
Handbook on the Steam Engine (translated by H. H. P. Powles, 
third Enghsh edition, 1902, p. 4), the following figures are 
given : — 

Lbs. of Coal per h.p. per hour 

Atmospheric engine. Savery, 1700 . . 31 

Low-pressure engine. Watt, 1768 ... 8 '8 

High-pressure engine. Evans, 1804 . 6'7 

Double-cylinder engine. Woolf, 1804 . . . . 4 '5 

Compound engine. Elder, 1850-1891 . 2*25 

Triple expansion engine, 1880-1891 .... 176 

Jevons gave the following table of " the work or duty, expressed 

L 



146 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

least tenfold ; and it need hardly be said that it 
is the cheapness of the power it affords that allows 

by the number of pounds of water raised one foot high by the 
expenditure of a bushel (84 lbs.) of coal. 

Duty in lbs. 

1769. Average of old atmospheric engine ... . 5,590,000 

1772. Smeaton's atmospheric engine 9,450,000 

1776. Watt's improved engine 21,600,000 

1779-1788. Watt's engine working expansively . . 26,600,000 

1820. Engine improved by Cornish engineers 28,000,000 

1830. Average duty of Cornish engines . 43,350,000 

1859. Average duty of Cornish engines (per 112 lbs.) 54,000,000 

1859. Extreme duty of best engine (per 112 lbs.) . . 80,000,000" 

The table is taken from Taylor's Record of Minmg, p. 152, etc. 
The bushel of coal, which meant 84 lbs. in the days of Savery and 
Smeaton, represented 94 lbs. in Learis Monthly duty records from 
which figures relating to Cornish engine performances from 181 1 are 
taken. From July, 1856, the records are based on the number of 
hundredweights of coal consumed {v. Henry Davey, The Princi- 
ples, Construction and Application of Pumping Machinery, 
London, 1900, pp. 17 and 20). The performances of the Cornish 
engines improved very little between 1830 and 1859. The best 
average results were obtained in 1843, when duties nearly double 
those of 1820 were recorded. By i860 the average had fallen 
back to the level of 1830, and no recovery is noted between i860 
and 1870. For the purpose of showing the general course of 
progress of economy of coal used in steam-engines, such a table as 
that inserted in the text appeared preferable to an attempt to 
continue that of Jevons to the present date. 

Some of the figures in Jevons' table represent average results 
obtained in practice, some exceptional results of the nature of 
experiments. Thus, the figure for 1776 represents a performance 
recorded in a letter of Watt to Smeaton. The working tests gave 
18 to 19 in place of 2i-6 million lbs. Davey (p. 14), referring 
to the figure for 1779-88, states that there is no record that so 
good a result was obtained in practice at that period, and that 
while the duty of the best engines in 1800 was said to be 
20,000,000 lbs., the average duty in 1801 was only about 10,000,000 
lbs., or little better than was attained a quarter of a century earlier. 
Mr. McFarland, in the article quoted above, says that "in 
ordinary practice simple engines rarely got a horse-power for as 



VII OF THE ECONOMY OF FUEL 147 

us to draw rivers from our mines, to drive our 
coal-pits in spite of floods and quicksands, to 
drain our towns and lowlands, and to supply 
with water our highest places ; and, finally, to 
put in motion the great system of our machine 
labour, which may be said, as far as any com- 
parison is possible, to enable us to do as much 
as all the inhabitants of the world with their 
unaided labours could accomplish but a few 
decades since. 

Further improvements of the engine can only 
have the same result, of extending the use of such 
a powerful agent. It is usual with a certain 

little as 3 lbs. of coal, very few compounds cost less than 2'S, 
while in ordinary average cruising it is probable the triple 
expansion engine gets a horse-power for i'8 to 2'o lbs. per hour." 

A writer in The Engineer of June 14th, 1861, refers to " Watt's 
single-acting engines which, at the time of the expiration of his 
patent in 1800, burnt 10 lbs. of coal per horse-power per hour. 
A duty of fifty million foot pounds to i cwt. of coal, equal to 
nearly \\ pounds of coal per effective horse-power per hour, is now 
a fair average ; whereas there have been engines of the same 
family which worked, year in and year out, with two pounds of 
coal for every 198,000 gallons of water lifted one foot." 

Dealing with the average rates of coal consumption of all 
engines in use. Sir W. Armstrong stated in evidence before 
Committee B of the Coal Commission of 1871 (q. 262): "As a 
general average, I should say 8 lbs. would be a fair estimate ; but 
I think that in ordinary high-pressvire engines which are used in 
manufactories, the expenditure would generally be 10 lbs. per 
horse-power per hour." The recent Royal Commission on Coal 
Supplies reported that "it is generally agreed that the con- 
sumption of coal per indicated horse-power per hour is on an 
average about 5 lbs." {Final Report, § 70). 

L 2 



148 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

class of writers to depreciate science in regard to 
the steam-engine, and to treat this as a pure 
creation of practical sagacity. But just as the 
origin of the steam-engine may be traced to a 
scientific work, so it is now theory and experiment 
in their highest and latest developments, which 
give us a sure notion of the limits of the future 
improvement of the engine, and through what 
means it is to be aimed at. 

" A well-constructed and properly working 
ordinary double-acting steam-engine," wrote 
Rankine in 1854, "consumes about 4*00 lbs. of 
bituminous coal per horse-power per hour. A 
double-acting steam-engine, improved to the 
utmost probable extent, would use 2*50 lbs. of 
the same coal"; while "a theoretically perfect 
engine, working between such limits of tempera- 
ture as are usual in steam-engines, would require 
only 1-86 lbs."i 

But theory further points out, what practice 
has confirmed, that the work done by an engine 
for a certain expenditure of fuel is proportional to 
the difference of the temperatures at which steam 
enters and leaves the engine.^ From this 

1 W. J. M. Rankine on the Air-Engine, Report of the British 
Association, 1854, p. 159. 

^ The greatest possible fraction of the total heat of combustion 
of the coal which could be turned into work, if all engine and 



vii OF THE ECONOMY OF FUEL 149 

principle arises the economy of using high-pressure 
and super-heated steam ; for we have, as it were, all 
the old force of the low-pressure and less-heated 
steam, with a great addition from the initial high 
pressure and the increased store of useful heat in 
the steam. The economy effected in this manner 
is wonderful. The very engines which had 
burned 12 or 14 lbs. of coal per horse-power- 
hour, when worked with steam at 4, 6, or 8 lbs. 
pressure, have been found to burn only ^^ or 4 lbs. 
of coal per horse-power per hour when supplied 
with stronger boilers, and worked at steam- 
pressures from 30 to 70 lbs. per square inch.^ 

Such simple changes as the shortening of the 
steam supply, the addition of a second cylinder, 
the felting of the boiler and steam-vessels, the 
enlarging of the boiler, the raising of the pressure, 
or the acceleration of the speed of travelling of 
an engine, are the simple means by which the 
self-same engine has often been made to give a 
manifold result. 

boiler losses could be avoided, depends on this difference. Thus, 
with steam at a pressure of 200 lbs. per square inch, and a 
condenser temperature of 100° F., only one-third of the total heat 
generated by the combustion of the fuel could possibly be rendered 
available as mechanical work. An engine which, under these 
conditions, gives one-sixth of the total heat in the form of work 
reaches, therefore, one-half of the greatest possible efficiency. The 
measure of its perfection is one-half, rather than one-sixth. 
1 James Nasmyth, in Tooke's History of Prices, \q\. vi, p. 533. 



ifo THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

It is true that, as we go on improving, the 
margin for further improvement becomes 
narrower, and its attainment more difficult and 
costly. The improvement of the boiler mainly 
depends upon the amount of capital expendi- 
ture against current expenditure. For the 
efficiency of a boiler grows with the surface of 
water we can expose to absorb the heat of the 
fire ; but the more we extend this surface, the less 
additional economy will an equal extension effect. 

Many of the difficulties inherent in the steam- 
engine are absent in the air-engine, which pre- 
sents a wide prospect of economy, as seen in the 
following numbers : — 

Actual consumption of Consumption of 
Coal per horse-power theoretically 

per hour perfect engine 

Sterling's air-engine 2 '20 lbs. 073 lbs. 

Ericsson's engine of 1852 , . 2'8o 0-82 

"Sterling's engine," it is said, "as finally im- 
proved, was compact in its dimensions, easily 
worked, not liable to get out of order, and con- 
sumed less oil, and required fewer repairs, than 
any steam-engine ; still, the advantages shown 
by that engine over steam-engines were not so 
great as to induce practical men to overcome 
their natural repugnance to exchange a long- 
tried method for a new one." ^ 

' W. J. M. Rankine,5nVwA^jw«aAo«, 1854, p. 159. Adouble- 



VII OF THE ECONOMY OF FUEL 151 

[For the convenient production of power on a 
small scale, internal combustion engines offer 
many advantages over steam-engines. The 
economy effected in the utilisation of fuel is not 
confined to small installations. The losses of 
heat in the boiler of a steam-engine are avoided, 
the pressure on the piston being produced, not 
by expanding steam, but by the products of 
combustion of a gas or vapour, mixed with a 
suitable proportion of air, and burnt by explosion 
in the cylinder itself. When associated with the 
cheap fuel-gas known as producer gas, which can 
be obtained by the use of small coal and qualities 
of coal too poor to give satisfactory results in the 
furnace of a boiler, these engines afford a very 
economical, as well as convenient, source of 
power. The best known makers of such engines 
in this country " guarantee the effective produc- 
tion of a horse-power for a consumption of "875 
to I lb. of coal used in the producer, or "8 to 
•9 lb. per indicated horse-power, according to the 

acting Sterling engine of 50 indicated horse-power, used in 1843 at 
the Dundee foundry, consumed only i'7 lbs. of coal per indicated 
horse-power per hour. In this type of engine, however, the 
results per indicated horse-power may not be a reliable indication 
of the requirements per actual horse-power realised (brake horse- 
power), tested by which standard the economy was far less than 
appears by the quoted figures (J. A. Ewing, The Steam Engine 
and other Heat Engines, Cambridge, 1899, p. 405). 



152 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

quality of the coal, the size of the producer, and 
other conditions." ^ 

For engines of small power, gas from some 
such source as a town gas-supply is needed, but 
for moderate amounts of power it becomes worth 
while to set up the plant required to make the 
producer gas. Extensive as has been the 
application of the gas-engine during the last two 
decades of the nineteenth century, its continued 
improvement in the future, and the provision of a 
fuel-gas by simple and economical processes, must 
add largely to the possibilities of its usefulness. 
Its use in the generation of electricity may enable 
that convenient form of energy to be applied to 
numerous purposes now ill-provided for or en- 
tirely neglected.] 

But every such improvement of the engine, 
when effected, does but accelerate anew the con- 

' Statement of Mr. W. J. Crossley, Second Report of Commission 
on Coal Supplies, vol. ii, p. 170. This statement goes further than 
the passage quoted, for it asserts that the consumption of coal has 
been got down to '68 lb. of coal per brake horse-power per hour. 
"To obtain a horse-power indicated in a gas-engine requires 
about 8,500 British thermal units to be burnt in the engine per 
hour." Thus 30 per cent, of the energy of the fuel is made 
available. 

Tests, at the St. Louis Exposition in 1904, of various American 
coals for the manufacture of producer gas gave results as low as 
I "03 lbs. of dry coal consumed in the producer per hour for each 
brake horse-power available for outside purposes {Engineering 
Magazine, May, 1905). 



VII OF THE ECONOMY OF FUEL 153 

sumption of coal. Every branch of manufacture 
receives a fresh impulse — hand labour is still 
further replaced by mechanical labour, and 
greatly extended works can be undertaken which 
were not commercially possible by the use of the 
more costly steam-power.^ 

What is true of economy in the engine is true 
of several other important, and many less im- 
portant, instances of economy. The extraordinary 
increase of the iron trade is a trite example. 



1 Jevons enumerated, at this place, three great employments 
" which would grow beyond conception by a great improvement 
of the engine." Of these, the third, steam navigation, that in 
which he expected "that the improvement will have most marked 
effects," has been so fully developed that no further reference to It 
is needed. The other two were as follows : — " The pumping of 
liquid sewage out of our great towns, and its distribution over the 
country, is one mode which would return a clear profit of many 
millions a year. The steam-plough is a second instance. Its 
efficiency is beyond question, and the soil is said to be quickened 
by its irresistible tillage, as a fire is quickened by the poker. But it 
yet hangs upon the verge of commercial possibility, as did 
Stephenson's locomotive engine, when he had got it to draw, but 
scarcely cheaper than horses. Taking the first and current costs 
into account, it is yet doubtful whether the steam-plough works as 
cheaply as the old horse-plough ; but James Watt, to the sur- 
prise of his contemporaries, asserted that steam-ploughing was 
possible;* and Mr. Fairbairn, at the British Association in 1861, 
confessed his belief that many of those present would live to see 
the steam-plough in operation over the length and breadth of the 
land. Now, an improvement in the engine, reducing the cost of 
fuel, will turn the balance in favour of coal-power, and its common 
use in agriculture will be a certainty." 

* Gentlemaris Magazine, 1819, part 2, p. 632. 



154 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

" This rapid and great increase, shown in the 
last few years, has been, in some part, caused by 
the economy introduced through the use of the 
hot blast in smelting, a process which has mate- 
rially lowered the cost of iron, and, therefore, 
has led to its employment for many purposes in 
which its use was previously unknown." ^ In 
fact, as shown in a subsequent chapter,^ the 
reduction of the consumption of coal, per ton of 
iron, to less than one-third of its forrner amount, 
was followed, in Scotland, by a tenfold total 
consumption, between the years 1830 and 1863, 
not to speak of the indirect effect of cheap iron in 
accelerating other coal-consuming branches of 
industry. 

Siemens' regenerative furnace is one very good 
example of economy in iron production. It is 
somewhat on the principle of the hot blast. The 
current is passed alternately in opposite direc- 
tions through two brick chambers, between which 
lies the furnace. Much of the waste heat, on its 
way to the chimney, is absorbed by the bricks, 
and again given out, when the current is reversed, 
to the cool air on its way to the furnace. Much 
less fuel is required, in such a furnace, to main- 
tain a given temperature, than if cold air were 

1 Porter's Progress, 1851, p. 575. 2 Chap. xv. 



VII OF THE ECONOMY OF FUEL 155^ 

allowed to flow directly into the fire. The appli- 
cation of such regenerative chambers to furnaces 
requires the investment of a large amount of 
capital ; and the question in such improvements, 
as in the case of the boiler, lies between a large 
initial investment and large current expenses. 

The utilisation of spare heat from a puddling 
or reheating furnace, by passing it through a 
steam-boiler ; the saving of the waste gases of a 
blast-furnace, to heat the blast, or work the 
engines ; ^ the employment of spare heat in salt 
pans ; the use of small gas flames, or gas fur- 
naces, where large coal fires were before used : 
such are a few of the very many modes in which 
coal may be greatly saved. In fact, there is 
hardly a single use of fuel in which a little care, 
ingenuity, or expenditure of capital may not make 
a considerable saving. 

But no one must suppose that coal thus saved 
is spared — it is only saved from one use to be 
employed in others, and the profits gained soon 
lead to extended employment in many new forms. 

' The following illustrates the importance of attention to this 
point of economy. " Wherever there is a demand for power, and 
cheap water power is not available, and blast furnaces are, the 
blast-furnace gas-engine power plant need fear no rival" (F. du 
P. Thomson, in Engineering Magazine, 1905, p. 260). These words, 
of course, contemplate a utilisation of the waste gases by other 
methods than those which Jevons had in mind. 



156 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

The several branches of industry are closely- 
interdependent, and the progress of any one leads 
to the progress of nearly all. 

And if economy in the past has been the main 
source of our progress and growing consumption 
of coal, the same effect will follow from the same 
cause in the future. Economy multiplies the 
value and efficiency of our chief material ; it in- 
definitely increases our wealth and means of sub- 
sistence, and leads to an extension of our popu- 
lation, works, and commerce, which is gratifying 
in the present, but must lead to an earlier end. 
Economical inventions are what I should look 
forward to as likely to continue our rate of 
increasing consumption. Could we keep them to 
ourselves, indeed, they would enable us, for a 
time, to neutralise the evils of dearness when coal 
begins to get scarce, to keep up our accustomed 
efficiency, and push down our coal-shafts as 
before. But the end would only thus be has- 
tened — the exhaustion of our seams more rapidly 
carrried out. 

Let us remember that we are dependent on the 
comparative cheapness of fuel and motive power. 
Now, comparative cheapness of fuel cannot be 
procured or retained by inventions and modes of 
economy which are as open to our commercial 



VII OF THE ECONOMY OF FUEL 157 

competitors as to ourselves, which have in many 
cases been introduced by them, and are more 
readily adopted by versatile foreigners than by 
English manufacturers bound by custom and 
routine. Even our superior capital will not avail 
us against dear fuel, because nothing more readily 
flows abroad in search of profitable employment 
than capital. And if we are to uphold a world- 
wide freedom of intercourse, let us not deceive 
ourselves as to its natural results upon the 
material basis of our prosperity. 



CHAPTER VIII 

OF SUPPOSED SUBSTITUTES FOR COAL 

A NOTION is very prevalent that in the con- 
tinuous progress of science some substitute for 
coal will be found — some source of motive power 
as far surpassing steam as steam surpasses animal 
labour. 

The popular scientific writer, Dr. Lardner, in 
the following passage of his Treatise on the 
Steam Engine, contributed to spread such no- 
tions — in him, as a scientific man, inexcusable.^ 
" The enormous consumption of coals produced 
by the application of the steam-engine in the arts 
and manufactures, as well as to railways and 
navigation, has of late years excited the fears of 
many as to the possibility of the exhaustion of our 
coal-mines. Such apprehensions are, however, 
altogether groundless. If the present consump- 
tion of coal be estimated at sixteen millions of 

1 Lardner, The Steatn Engine explained and illustrated, etc., 
7th ed. 1840, p. 8. 



CH. VIII OF SUPPOSED SUBSTITUTES 159 

tons annually, it is demonstrable that the coal- 
fields of this country would not be exhausted for 
many centuries. 

" But in speculations like these, the probable, 
if not certain progress of improvement and dis- 
covery ought not to be overlooked ; and we may 
safely pronounce that, long before such a period 
of time shall have rolled away, other and more 
powerful mechanical agents will supersede the 
use of coal. Philosophy already directs her 
finger at sources of inexhaustible power in the 
phenomena of electricity and magnetism. The 
alternate decomposition and recomposition of 
water, by magnetism and electricity, has ■ too 
close an analogy to the alternate processes of 
vaporisation and condensation, not to occur at 
once to every mind ; the development of the 
gases from solid matter by the operation of the 
chemical affinities, and their subsequent conden- 
sation into the liquid form, has already been 
essayed as a source of power. In a word, the 
general state of physical science at the present 
moment, the vigour, activity, and sagacity with 
which researches in it are prosecuted in every 
civilised country, the increasing consideration in 
which scientific men are held, and the personal 
honours and rewards which begin to be conferred 



i6o THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

upon them, all justify the expectation that we 
are on the eve of mechanical discoveries still 
greater than any which have yet appeared ; and 
that the steam-engine itself, with the gigantic 
powers conferred upon it by the immortal Watt, 
will dwindle into insignificance in comparison 
with the energies of nature which are still to be 
revealed ; and that the day will come when that 
machine, which is now extending the blessings 
of civilisation to the most remote skirts of the 
globe, will cease to have existence except in the 
page of history." 

Such high-sounding phrases would mislead no 
scientific man at the present day ; ^ but there is a 
large class of persons whose vague notions of the 
powers of nature lay them open to the adoption of 
paradoxical suggestions. The fallacious notions 
afloat on the subject of electricity especially are 
unconquerable. Electricity, in short, is to the 
present age what the perpetual motion was to an 
age not far removed. People are so astonished 
at the subtle manifestations of electric power, 
that they think the more miraculous effects they 
anticipate from it the more profound the appre- 

' A pencilled marginal note at this point in the copy which 
Jevons was preparing for a new edition runs as follows : — " They 
are worthy only of a savant who proved that a steam-vessel could 
not cross the Atlantic." 



VIII OF SUPPOSED SUBSTITUTES i6i 

ciation of its nature they show. But then they 
generally take that one step too much which the 
contrivers of the perpetual motion took — they 
treat electricity not only as a marvellous mode 
of distributing power, they treat it as a source of 
self-creating power. 

The great advances, which have been achieved 
in the mechanical theory of nature, in the course 
of the nineteenth century, have greatly cleared up 
our notions of force and energy. It has been 
rendered apparent that the universe, from a 
material point of view, is one -great manifestation 
of a constant aggregate of energy. The motion 
of falling bodies, the motions of magnetic or 
electric attractions, the unseen agitation of heat, 
the vibration of light, the molecular changes of 
chemical action, and even the mysterious life- 
motions of plants and animals, all are but the 
several modes of greater or lesser motion. 

These views lead us at once to look upon all 
machines and processes of manufacture as but 
the more or less efficient modes of transmuting 
and using energy. If we have energy in any one 
of its forms, as heat, light, chemical change, or 
mechanical motion, we can turn it, or may fairly 
hope to turn it, into any other of its forms. But 
to think of getting energy except from some 

M 



1 62 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

natural source is as absurd as to think of making- 
iron or gold out of vacant space. 

We must look abroad then to compare the 
known sources of energy. Some distinct sources 
are of inconsiderable importance, such as the fall 
of meteoric stones, the fall of rocks, or the heat 
derivable from sulphur and other native com- 
bustible substances. The internal heat of the 
earth, again, presents an immense store of energy, 
but being powerfully manifested only in the hot- 
spring or the volcano, it is not available to us. 

The tides arising from the attractions of the 
sun, earth, and moon, present another source of 
power, which is, and often has been, used in one 
way or another, and shall be considered. 

The remaining natural sources of energy are 
the complicated light, heat, chemical and mag- 
netic influences of the sun's rays. The light, or 
chemical action, is the origin of organic fuel, in all 
its forms of wood, peat, bitumen, coal, etc. ; while 
the heat occasions the motions of the winds and 
falling waters. The electricity of the air and the 
thunderstorm, and the electric currents of the 
earth, are probably secondary effects of the other 
influences. Among these several jnanifestations 
of energy, our choice must, in all reasonable prob- 
ability, be made. 



VIII OF SUPPOSED SUBSTITUTES 163 

Now it will be easily seen that the resources 
of nature are almost unbounded, but that economy 
consists in discovering and picking out those 
almost infinitesimal portions which best serve our 
purpose. We disregard the abundant vegetation, 
and live upon the small grain of corn ; we burn 
down the largest tree, that we may use its ashes ; 
or we wash away ten thousand parts of rock, and 
sand, and gravel, that we may extract the particle 
of gold. Millions, too, live, and work, and die, 
in the accustomed grooves for the one Lee, or 
Savery, or Crompton, or Watt, who uses his 
minute personal contribution of labour to the 
best effect. 

So material nature presents to us the aspect of 
one continuous waste of energy and matter 
beyond our control. The power we employ in 
the greatest engine is but an infinitesimal portion 
withdrawn from the immeasurable store of natural 
forces.^ But civilisation, as Liebig said, is the 
economy of power, and consists in withdrawing 
and using our small fraction of energy in a happy 
mode and moment. 

The rude forces of nature are too great for us. 



^ See Economy of Manufactures, § 17, et passim. In this 
exquisite work Mr. Babbage anticipates the modern doctrines of 
the relations of the natural forces. 

M 2 



1 64 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

as well as too slight. It is often all we can do to 
escape injury from them, instead of making them 
obey us. And while the sun annually showers 
down upon us about a thousand times as much 
heat-power as is contained in all the coal we 
raise annually ; yet that thousandth part, being 
under perfect control, is a sufficient basis of all 
our economy and progress. 

The first great requisite of motive power is, 
that it shall be wholly at our command, to be 
exerted when and where and in what degree we 
desire. The wind, for instance, as a direct motive 
power, is wholly inapplicable to a system of 
machine labour, for during a calm season the 
whole business of the country would be thrown 
out of gear. Before the era of steam-engines, 
windmills were tried for draining mines ; " but 
though they were powerful machines, they were 
very irregular, so that in a long tract of calm 
weather the mines were drowned, and all the 
workmen thrown idle. From this cause, the 
contingent expenses of these machines were very 
great ; besides, they were only applicable in open 
and elevated situations." 

No possible concentration of windmills, again, 
would supply the power required in large factories 
or iron works. An ordinary windmill has the 



VIII OF SUPPOSED SUBSTITUTES 165 

power of about thirty-four men/ or at most, 
seven horses. Many ordinary factories would 
therefore require ten windmills to drive them ; 
and the great Dowlais Ironworks, employing a 
total engine power of 7,308 horses,^ would require 
no less than 1,000 large windmills ! 

In navigation the power of the wind is more 
applicable, as it is seldom wanting in the open 
sea, and in long voyages the chances are that the 
favourable will compensate the unfavourable 
winds. But in shorter voyages the uncertainty 
and delay of sailing vessels used to be intolerable. 
It is not a hundred years since passengers for 
Ireland or for the Continent had sometimes to 
wait for weeks until a contrary wind had blown 
itself out. Such uncertain delays dislocate busi- 
ness, and prevent it from proceeding in the rapid 
and machine-like manner which is necessary for 
economy. Hence the gradual substitution of 
steam for sailing vessels. In the steam boiler, 
indeed, we have the veritable bag of ^olus ; and 
thus, though steam is a most costly power, it 

^ Life of Telford, Telford's Memorandum Book, p. 671. The 
increase of the power of windmills so as to develop as much as 60 
horse-power from a single mill (cf Final Report of Commission 
on Coal Supplies, 1905, q. 23651) has been more than matched 
by the increase of power needed in modern factories and works. 
The comparisons of the text have not, therefore, lost their force. 

2 Truran on the Iron Manufacture of Great Britain, p. 242. 



1 66 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

is certain, and our sea captains have come to 
regard wind as a noxious disturbing influence. 
In a well-established and connected system of 
communications, there is little or no use, and often 
a good deal of harm, in reaching a place before 
the appointed time. Thus on a steamship little 
or no use is made of sails even when the wind 
is favourable and strong, and it cannot be said 
that there is any benefit to be derived from them 
equivalent to their trouble and cost. It is cer- 
tainty that is the highest benefit of steam com- 
munication. 

The regularity and rapidity of a steam vessel 
render it an economical mode of conveyance even 
for a heavy freight like coal. The first cost of a 
steam collier is greater than for sailing colliers 
of equal tonnage. But then capital invested in 
the steam vessel is many times as efficient as in 
the sailing vessel. A steam collier can receive 
her cargo of 1,200 tons at Newcastle in four 
hours, reach London in thirty-two hours, dis- 
charge by steam hydraulic machinery in ten 
hours, and return to Newcastle with water ballast 
within seventy-six hours for the round voyage. 
A single collier has been known to make fifty- 
seven voyages to London in one year, delivering 
62,842 tons of coal with a crew of twenty- 



VIII OF SUPPOSED SUBSTITUTES 167 

one persons. To accomplish the same work 
with sailing colliers would require sixteen vessels 
and 144 hands. ^ 

The same necessity for regularity may be still 
more clearly seen in land conveyance. A wind- 
waggon would undoubtedly be the cheapest kind 
of conveyance if it would always go the right 
way. Simon Stevin invented such a carriage, 
which carried twenty-eight persons, and is said 
to have gone seven leagues an hour.^ Sailing 
coal- waggons were tried by Sir Humphrey Mack- 
worth at Neath about the end of the seventeenth 
century, and Waller eulogises these " new sailing 
waggons for the cheap carriage of his coal to 
the waterside, whereby one horse does the work 
of ten at all times ; but when any wind is stirring 
(which is seldom wanting near the sea), one man 
and a small sail do the work of twenty." ^ 

Nearly a century later Richard Lovell Edge- 
worth spent forty years' labour in trying to bring 
wind carriages into use. But no ingenuity could 
prevent them from being uncertain : and their 
rapidity with a strong breeze was such, that, as 
was said of Stevin's carriage, "they seemed to 

1 C. M. Palmer, Report of the British Association, 1863, p. 697. 

2 See a curious account in the British Museum, under the name 
Stevin, 1652. 

3 Smiles' Engineers, vol. iii, p. 73- 



1 68 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

fly, rather than roll along the ground." Such 
rapidity not under full control must be in the 
highest degree dangerous. 

" Nothing could at first sight have seemed 
more improbable than the success of the steam 
locomotive over the atmospheric locomotive. 
The power of the air, which was absolutely 
gratuitous, was proved to be capable of impelling 
railway carriages as effectually as the power of 
steam, generated by coals which were procured 
at a great cost, and were brought from a con- 
siderable distance. But the conditions under 
which the force of the atmosphere could be 
applied were so onerous that the invention ceased 
to present the character of an aid, and its use 
has consequently been discontinued." ^ 

It is the characteristic of certainty which led 
Brindley strongly to prefer canals to improved 
river navigations. Rivers he regarded as only 
fit to feed canals, and as being themselves subject 
to floods and droughts, he characterised them " as 
out of the power of art to remedy." ^ Many of 

^ Plutology ; or, the Theory of Efforts to satisfy Human Wants, 
by W. E. Hearn, LL.D., Professor of Political Economy in the 
University of Melbourne, 1864, p. 199. This work appears to me 
both in soundness and originality the most advanced treatise on 
political economy which has appeared, and it should be familiar to 
every student of the science. 

2 Smiles' Engineers, vol. i, p. 458. 



VIII OF SUPPOSED SUBSTITUTES 169 

Brindley's finest engineering works on the Bridge- 
water Canal were directed to warding off the in- 
terference of river floods.^ Yet even his great 
canal was subject to be frozen up in winter and 
to be let dry for repairs in summer, and we could 
not tolerate the inconvenience and loss which a 
stoppage of traffic would now occasion in our 
large and nicely-jointed system of trade. 

Uncertainty will for ever render aerial con- 
veyance a commercial impossibility. A balloon 
or aerial machine does not enjoy like a ship the 
reaction of a second medium. It is subject to 
the full influence of the wind. Thus, even if an 
aerial machine could be propelled by some in- 
ternal power from fifty to a hundred miles an 
hour, it could not make head against a gale. To 
say nothing of the facts that balloon travel- 
ling must be dangerous, that it is really de- 
pendent on the use of fuel, and cannot, as far as 
we can yet see, ever be rendered practicable or 
cheap, it is, beyond all this, subject to natural un- 
certainty necessarily precluding its general use. 

Atmospheric or terrestrial electricity has, no 
doubt, suggested itself to some as a source of 



' As a later example, it may be noted that, in the plans for the 
construction of the Panama Canal, one of the greatest engineering 
difficulties is presented by the floods of the river Chagres. 



lyo THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

power. The thunder-cloud, the aurora borealis, 
and the earth-current of the telegraphic wire, 
are natural manifestations of electric power, 
which might possibly be utilised. But such 
secondary forces are altogether inconsiderable in 
amount, compared with the forces of heat and 
wind, from which they doubtless arise. In fact, 
they are scarcely sensible, except during thunder, 
auroral or magnetic storms, when they become 
destructive, and interrupt our telegraphic com- 
munications. We should no more think of wait- 
ing for a magnetic storm to move our engines, 
than Brindley would have thought of waiting 
for a mountain torrent to float his canal boats. 
The first essential of a motive force is con- 
stancy ; natural electricity, on the contrary, 
possesses all the characteristics of uncertainty 
and extreme irregularity, which are most opposed 
to utility. 

We meet, however, a constant and manageable 
source of energy in water power. The water- 
wheel, or the turbine, possesses a natural tend- 
ency to uniformity of motion, even more perfect 
than that bestowed on the engine by Watt's 
" governor." Water power is, in this respect, 
the best motive power, and is sometimes used on 
this account, where a very delicate machine re- 



VIII OF SUPPOSED SUBSTITUTES 171 

quires to be driven at a perfectly constant rate. 
When an abundant natural fall of water is at 
hand, nothing can be cheaper or better than 
water power. But everything depends upon 
local circumstances. The occasional mountain 
torrent is simply destructive. Many streams 
and rivers only contain sufficient water half the 
year round, and costly reservoirs alone could 
keep up the summer supply. In flat countries 
no engineering art could procure any considerable 
supply of natural water power, and in very few 
places do we find water power free from occa- 
sional failure by drought.^ 

The necessity, again, of carrying the work to 
the power, not the power to the work, is a dis- 
advantage in water power, and wholly prevents 
that concentration of works in one neighbour- 
hood which is highly advantageous to the per- 
fection of our mechanical system. The cost of 
conveying raw materials and products to and 
from the mill often overbalances the cheapness of 
water power, with the possibility, too, of an occa- 

' Professor G. Forbes has estimated that "if all the available 
water power in the United Kingdom were made use of . . 
the total probable practical saving in coal . . would be 1,200,000 
tons per annum," with possible underestimate not " likely to 
amount to 500,000 tons per annum " {Filial Report of Royal 
Commission on Coal Supplies, part x, p. 265). 



172 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

sional scarcity of water during drought. [Though 
the power from large concentrated water powers 
can be transmitted for long distances electrically, 
this consideration is not applicable to the greater 
part of the water powers of the British Isles.] 

It is usually possible, with more or less labour, 
to procure water power artificially, to store it up, 
and convey and expend it where we like. Those 
who are acquainted with Sir W. Armstrong's 
beautiful apparatus for working cranes, dock- 
gates, and performing other occasional services, 
will probably allow that the most perfect con- 
ceivable system of machine labour might be 
founded on hydraulic power. Imagine an in- 
definite number of windmills, tidal mills, and 
water-mills employed to pump water into a few 
immense reservoirs near our factory towns. 
Water power might thence be distributed and 
sold, as water is now sold for domestic purposes. 
Not only all large machines, but every crane, 
every lathe, every tool might be worked by water 
from a supply pipe, and in our houses a multitude 
of domestic operations, such as ventilation, wash- 
ing, the turning of the spit, might be facilitated 
by water power. 

The first suggestion of a system of storing and 
distributing power seems to be due to Denis 



VIII OF SUPPOSED SUBSTITUTES 173 

Papin, the French refugee engineer, the same 
who suggested the use of the steam-engine 
piston.^ In the Transactions of the Royal 
Society for the year 1687 ^ he described a method 
oi prolonging the action of water-wheels by draw- 
ing and forcing air through tubes, which seems 
to involve the principle of the boring machines of 
the Mont Cenis tunnel, the compressed air coal- 
cutting machine, and pneumatic and hydraulic 
apparatus generally. And it was Bramah, a 
second French engineer, domiciled here, who 
first showed in practice the wonderful capabilities 
of hydraulic power. And so controllable, safe, 
clean, and irresistible is hydrostatic pressure, 
either of air or water, that, now our mechanical 
skill in construction is sufficiently advanced, it 
must come more and more into use. We might 
almost anticipate from its wide adoption a perfect 
Utopian system of machine labour, in which 
human labour would be restricted to the simple 
direction of the hydraulic pressure. 

But before indulging in imaginary approxima- 
tions to perfection, it is well to inquire into the 
several conditions of possibility. To the capa- 
bilities of hydrostatic pressure there is perhaps 
physically speaking scarcely a limit, but com- 

1 See p. 118. 2 No. 186, p. 263, Jan. 1687. 



174 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

mercially speaking our command of water power, 
or hydrostatic power, in whatever form, is nearly 
limited to our command of steam. It is steam 
that presents us with hydrostatic power in its 
most abundant and available form. Water 
power in uniform abundance is to be had, in this 
country at least, only through steam ; and all ex- 
perience points to the fact that, instead of water 
being a possible commercial substitute for steam, it 
is steam that from, its first use has been a substi- 
tute for water power. 

A brief consideration of the history of the 
steam-engine will put this fact in the clearest 
light. Though water power had been in use 
since the time of the Romans, a great want was 
clearly felt in the seventeenth century, of some 
new power, antithetical to water power, so to 
speak, and capable of overcoming it, so that 
drowned mines might be pumped dry, and water 
might be raised to furnish artificial water power, 
where a natural supply was not to be had. The 
earliest explicit patent for a new engine was 
directed to the raising of water,^ and the 
" Exact and True Definition " of the Marquis of 
Worcester's engine clearly expressed a similar 
purpose. 

' See the patent of 1631, in Rymer's Fcedera. 



VIII OF SUPPOSED SUBSTITUTES 175 

" There being indeed no place but either 
wanteth water, or is overburdened therewith . . . 
by this engine either defect is remediable." 
Hence the Marquis calls his invention a "stu- 
pendous water commanding engine," and truly- 
regarded it as a new primum mobile which was 
to overcome the force of falling water. 

His appreciation of the value of water power 
is shown by his remarkable motto : ^ — 

" Whosoever is master of weight is master of force, 
Whosoever is master of water is master of both." 

" And consequently," said he, " to him all 
forcible actions and achievements are easy, 
which are in any wise beneficial to, or for, 
mankind." 

Savery had no less correct and exalted notions 
of what his engine might accomplish by simply 
overcoming the gravity of water. It generated 
an universal motive power ; for he said, " I have 
only this to urge, that water in its fall from any 
determinate height, has simply a force answer- 
able to, and equal to the force that raises it " ; ^ 
and he hints at "what may yet be brought to 
work by a steady stream and the rotation, or 

1 Harleian Miscellany, vol. iv, p. 526. 
^ Miner's Friend, pp. 28, 29. 



176 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

circular motion of a water-wheel," and "what use 
this engine may be put to in working of mills, 
especially where coals are cheap." 

Now during the greater part of the eighteenth 
century the steam-engine did perform the duty 
alluded to ; it did pump up water and furnish 
artificial water power for turning mills and 
winding coals from mines. At the Coalbrook- 
dale Iron Works it accomplished an inestimable 
service by enabling Darby to maintain and 
increase the blast of his new coal furnaces, an 
atmospheric engine being used to return the 
water from the lower to the higher mill-pond} 

Had not the introduction of the crank, fly- 
wheel, and governor by Watt, enabled us to 
communicate equable circular motion directly 
from a steam-engine to a machine, the water- 
wheel supplied with water by an engine would 
to this day be the source of motive power. 
As it is, of course steam power used directly 
is cheaper than steam power used indirectly. 
Water power is now only used where a natural 
fall is easily available. Such falls had in general 
become monopolised property from time im- 
memorial, and naturally became the seats of 
factory labour, a century or more ago. But 
^ See chap. xv. 



vm OF SUPPOSED SUBSTITUTES 177 

it was the steam-engine which alone could 
allow the growth of our factory system. "^ 
The water-wheel, moreover, has, by the con- 
tinued exertions of our great engineers, from 
Smeaton down to Fairbairn, been carried near 
its mathematical maximum of efficiency, whereas 
the engine yet gives us only a fraction of the 
power it may be made to give. The improve- 
ment of the steam-engine has, in fact, caused 
it to be substituted successively in many mills 
before worked by water. 

The predominance of steam over water is seen 
in many other instances. It is a steam-engine 
that is used to supply water power for Sir W. 
Armstrong's apparatus, as at the Liverpool and 
Birkenhead Docks. Again, it is only the steam- 
engine that can supply water for the manufac- 
turing and domestic uses of our great towns like 
Wolverhampton and London. Our factories, 
print-works, sugar refineries, breweries, and other 

1 The increase of the use of steam power in textile factories in 
the United Kingdom is shown in the following official figures :— 

Motive Horse Power 





Water 


Steam 


Total 


1850 


26,104 


108,113 


134,217 


i8s6 


23.724 


137,713 


161,437 


1861 


29,3S9 


375,3" 


404,670 


1868 


29,830 


337,831 


367,681 


1870 


27,321 


478,434 


505,755 



{Miscellaneous Statistics of the United Kingdo7n,\>axtvm, p. 370.) 

N 



178 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

works, find it a matter of immense cost and 
difficulty to get a plentiful supply of water from 
wells and pumping engines, or from natural 
sources. And if we can hardly supply our 
boilers with water, how can we dream of ever 
using water, instead of steam, in the cylinder, 
and as the motive power ? ^ 

The predominance of steam is further seen in 
its actual substitution for the windmill, or the 
tidal mill. Wind-cornmills still go on working 
until they are burnt down, or out of repair ; they 
are then never rebuilt, but their work is trans- 
ferred to steam-mills. Yet the grinding of corn 
is a work most suitable to the variable power 
of the wind. Again, if there is anything which 
could be cheaply done by wind, it is the raising 
of large masses of water where occasional irregu- 
larities are of no consequence, the rain and wind 
mostly coming together. Yet the windmills long 
employed to drain the Lincolnshire Fens, as 
practised in Holland, were at last superseded by 
powerful steam-engines, on the recommendation 
of Mr. Rennie.^ Tidal mills are no novelty. One 

1 The use of water for minor purposes is not in conflict with the 
position taken , in the text. Other considerations than the direct 
cost may influence the question, but for developing power on a 
large scale, steam retains its supremacy. 

2 Smiles' Engineers, vol. i, p. 67. 



VIII OF SUPPOSED SUBSTITUTES 179 

is mentioned in the first page and column of the 
Domesday Book as existing at Dover. A tidal 
pump was long moved by the current under Old 
London Bridge, and supplied the City with water. 
A tidal corn-mill, too, of very ingenious con- 
struction, subsequently existed at Woolwich.^ 
Sir Robert Kane, in his Industrial Resources of 
Ireland,^ supposed tidal mills to be capable of 
supplying motive power to Ireland. 

The application of the tides to machine labour 
is rendered difficult on account of their variation 
from day to day. To gain a constant head of 
water always available we must either construct 
elaborate and costly high and low tide basins, or 
else we must use the variable tidal wheel to 
pump up water into a great reservoir. The 
estuary of the Dee is one of the places best 
adapted to give a vast tidal power, and an anony- 
mous but apparently able engineer has calculated 
what power might be utilised there. ^ He con- 
sidered that the equivalent steam power might be 
had at a capital cost of ;;^4,ooo,ooo, a sum wholly 
insufficient to provide the tidal works. Hence 
he concluded that the tidal scheme would be at 
least commercially impracticable, and he doubted 

1 Barlow's Cyclopadia. ^ First edition, p. 105. 

3 See the journal Engineering, 30th March, 1866, p. 195. 

N 2 



i8o THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

whether it would be at all possible, mechanically- 
speaking, to construct embankments and tidal 
basins on loose sands. 

And whatever schemes of this sort be pro- 
posed, we should remember that the tendency of 
tidal docks and reservoirs to silt up is an in- 
superable objection in cost. Engineers, from the 
time of Brindley, have constantly found that 
there is nothing more nearly beyond the remedy 
of art than the silting up of harbours, docks, 
and reservoirs. Constant dredging is necessary 
to maintain the access to the Liverpool and 
Birkenhead Docks, and a tidal mill and reser- 
voir constructed on the north side of the Mersey 
about a century ago was soon abandoned for a 
similar reason. 

It will, therefore, appear obvious that if 
we are to have a water-power millennium of 
machine labour, which is physically possible, it 
must yet be by using steam as the ultim.ate source 
of power. 

To go on to other suggestions, we may notice 
the opinion that the electro-magnetic engine will 
some day supersede the steam-engine. Such an 
engine, however, must be worked by an electro- 
positive metallic element as the source of power. 
Now it is coal or fuel only by which we can smelt 



vm OF SUPPOSED SUBSTITUTES i8i 

ores and obtain the metal required for the engine, 
and it is demonstrable that we should get far 
more power by using coal directly under a steam- 
engine boiler than by using it to smelt metals 
for an electro-magnetic engine. After the ex- 
posure of the claims of such an engine by Baron 
Liebig,^ I need not dwell upon it. The pre- 
dominance of steam, too, is shown most clearly 
in the fact that the steam-engine is used con- 
versely to turn dynamo-electric machines, and 
supply electricity for lighting and for power. 
And while mechanical energy is found to be 
the cheapest source of electricity, it is impos- 
sible that electricity should be the cheapest 
source of mechanical energy. [The improve- 
ment of the dynamo-electric machine, and its 
more and more extensive use, have been pro- 
minent features of recent advance in the appli- 
cation of science to industry. So much is this 
the case that our age is often designated the 
age of electricity, and there is no doubt that the 
future will witness a far more general use of 
electric energy than has yet taken place.] The 
dynamo is, indeed, in an eminent degree a con- 
venient device for applying or concentrating force, 
but the force must ultimately be furnished by coal. 

^ Letters on Chemistry, No. 12. 



1 82 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

Hitherto we have considered mechanical power 
only, but it is obvious that if coal were used up 
we should want some source of heat as well as 
of power. A favourite notion at one time was 
to employ wind, water, or tidal mills to turn 
magneto-electric machines, and by the current 
of electricity produced to decompose water, thus 
furnishing a continuous supply of artificial gaseous 
fuel. Such a plan was proposed in The Times 
during the discussion on the French Treaty. 
But an answer, attributed to Dr. Percy, of the 
School of Mines, soon appeared, showing the 
amount of fuel derivable to be inconsiderable. 
The waste of power must be vastly greater in 
such a process of transmutation than in the 
system of artificial water power which we have 
considered. Besides, if uniform experience is to 
be trusted, a steam-engine would be a much more 
economical means of turning the magneto-electric 
machines than either a wind, water, or tidal 
machine. We should therefore only use coal 
in a roundabout manner to generate a less valu- 
able fuel. For the hydrogen gas generated, 
though in some instances valuable, would in 
general be immensely less convenient than coal. 
For equal weights, it gives about four times as 
much heat as coal, but hydrogen is so light that 



via OF SUPPOSED SUBSTITUTES 183 

for equal volumes it gives one five-thousandth part 
as much heat. To compress it in a small space 
would require more power than the combustion 
of the fuel itself would furnish, and gas companies 
do not find it convenient to compress their gas. 
Hydrogen, too, has so much higher a diffusive 
power than coal-gas, that it could hardly be 
retained in gasometers or ordinary pipes. Even 
the loss of coal-gas by leakage is said to be 
nearly twenty-five per cent. 

Of course it is useless to think of substituting 
any other kind of fuel for coal. We cannot 
revert to timber fuel, for " nearly the entire 
surface of our island would be required to grow 
timber sufficient for the consumption of the iron 
manufacture alone." ^ And I have independently 
calculated, from the known produce of con- 
tinental forests,^ and the comparative heat-pro- 
ducing values of timber and coal,^ that forests of 
an extent two and a half times exceeding the 
whole area of the United Kingdom would be 
required to furnish even a theoretical equivalent 
for each hundred million tons of coal annually 
produced. Practically, however, there are incon- 

i Taylor's Archaology of the Coal Trade, p. 176. 

2 Percy's Metallurgy, vol. i, pp. 71, 72. 

^ Watt's Chemical Dictionary, Article Fuel. 



1 84 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

veniences about the use of timber that would 
altogether prevent it from nourishing a large 
manufacturing system. Wood fuel is superior 
to coal in the single case of the iron smelting 
furnace ; but in most other uses, the greater bulk 
of wood, and the large areas of forest land over 
which it is spread, necessarily render it a costly 
and inefficient fuel compared with coal. 

Peat, or turf, again, may no doubt be turned 
into fuel ; but, in spite of what has been said in 
its favour by Sir R. Kane,^ all experience shows 
that it is inferior as regards cost and efficiency 
to coal. [As a substitute for coal in England, 
it could not be profitably employed at any con- 
siderable distance from the place of manufacture, 
until the time arrives when, with progressive 
exhaustion of our coal beds, coal has become a 
comparatively expensive source of power.] 

Petroleum has, of late years, become the matter 
of a most extensive trade, and has been found 
admirably adapted for use in marine steam-engine 
boilers. It is undoubtedly superior to coal for 
many purposes, and is capable of replacing it. 
But then. What is Petroleum but the Essence of 
Coal, distilled from it by terrestrial or artificial 
heat ? Its natural supply is far more limited and 

' Industrial Resources of Ireland, ist ed., chap. ii. 



VIII OF SUPPOSED SUBSTITUTES 185 

uncertain than that of coal, and an artificial supply 
can only be had by the distillation of some kind 
of coal at considerable cost. To extend the use 
of petroleum, then, is only a new way of pushing 
the consumption of coal.^ It is more likely to be 
an aggravation of the drain than a remedy. 

Coal has all those characteristics which entitle 
it to be considered the best natural source of 
motive power. It is like a spring, wound up 

1 This is certainly true for countries not possessing natural 
springs or wells of petroleum. To the extent to which this country 
relies on imported supplies of fuel oils, it ceases to occupy the 
position of advantage, relative to other industrial countries, con- 
ferred by its extensive deposits of excellent and accessible coal. 

The total of the world's production of petroleum in 1901 was 
stated by Dr. Boverton Redwood to be 22,000,000 tons {Final 
Report of Commission on Coal Supplies, § 94). The Petroleum 
Review, in May, 1905, gave the world's production of the preceding 
year as 28,577,900 tons. Accepting the fuel value of petroleum as 
fifty per cent greater than that of an equal weight of coal, this out- 
put would be able to replace barely 43,000,000 tons of coal, or, say 
five per cent of the world's coal production. 

It might be considered necessary to add, to the enumeration of 
possible substitutes for coal, natural gas, especially in view of the 
discoveries near Heathfield in Sussex. The following remark of 
the general manager of the Pennsylvania Steel Company, in 
reference to the natural gas supply of the United States, seems to 
render it unnecessary to devote space to the possibility of replacing 
British coal by natural gas in any but a very slight degree. 

" Of late years the supply of gas has been decreasing, and the 
demand has been met by the constant drilling of new wells in new 
territory. There is a limit to this method, and it would seem that 
before many years this fuel would cease to be a factor in the larger 
operations of a steel works." The Manufacture and Properties of 
Iron and Steel, by H. H. Campbell, 2nd edition, 1904, New York, 
p. 246. 



1 86 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

during geological ages for us to let down. Just 
as in alluvial deposits of gold-dust we enjoy the 
labour of the natural forces which for ages were 
breaking down the quartz veins and washing out 
the gold ready for us, so in our seams of coal we 
have peculiar stores of energy collected from the 
sunbeams for us. Coal contains light and heat 
DOttled up in the earth, as Stephenson said, for 
tens of thousands of years, and now again brought 
forth and made to work for human purposes. 

The amount of power contained in coal is 
almost incredible. In burning a single pound of 
coal there is developed energy equivalent to that 
of 10,422,000 pounds weight falling one foot, and 
the actual useful work got from each pound of coal 
in a good steam-engine is that of 1,000,000 lbs. 
falling through a foot ^ ; that is to say, there is 
spring enough in coal to raise a million times its 
own weight a foot high. Or again, suppose a 
farmer to despatch a horse and cart to bring 
a ton of coals to work a portable engine, occupy- 
ing four hours on the way. The power brought 
in the coal is 2,800 times the power expended 
in bringing it, and the amount of useful work 



' This result would be given by an engine using about 2 lbs. 
of coal per horse-power per hour. The best engines of to-day- 
could give twice as much. 



VIII OF SUPPOSED SUBSTITUTES 187 

actually got from it will probably exceed by 100 
times or more that of the horse as employed in 
the cart. In coal we pre-eminently have, as the 
partner of Watt said, " what all the world wants 
— Power. All things considered, it is not rea- 
sonable to suppose or expect that the power of 
coal will ever be superseded by anything better. 
It is the naturally best source of power, as air 
and water and gold and iron are, each for its 
own purposes, the most useful of substances, and 
such as will never be superseded. 

Of course I do not deny that if our coal were 
gone, or nearly so, and of high price, we might 
find wind, water, or tidal mills, a profitable sub- 
stitute for coal. But this would only be on the 
principle that half a loaf is better than no bread. 
It would not enable us to keep up our old 
efficiency, nor to compete with nations enjoying 
yet undiminished stores of fuel. And there is 
little doubt, too, that a century hence the average 
efficiency of steam-engines will be much greater 
than at present, turning the balance of economy 
so far the more in favour of those who then 
possess coal, and against those who have to 
resort to water or wind. 

This is a point which I must insist upon as 
finally decisive of the question. The progress of 



1 88 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

science, and the improvement in the arts, will tend 
to increase the supremacy of steam and coal. Any 
mechanist knows that the water-wheel and the 
windmill have been brought, by the exertion of 
our engineers, Brindley, Smeaton, Rennie, Tel- 
ford, and Fairbairn, near to their mathematical 
limit of efficiency ; so that we can do little more 
than improve the mechanical construction, and 
gain some small percentage of additional power 
by reducing the friction of the machinery. The 
steam-engine, on the other hand, at least equally 
admits of improvement in mechanical details ; 
but beyond this, in the principles of heat and 
vapour, we see clearly the possibility of further 
increase in the efficiency of fuel. If there is any- 
thing certain in the progress of the arts and 
sciences, it is that this gain of power will 
be achieved. In short, the general course of 
science and improvement will only lead us the 
more to regret the limited extent of our coal 
resources. 

But let us further remember that coal is now 
a pre-eminent gift in our actual possession, 
whereas if any wholly new source of power be 
some day discovered, we have no reason to sup- 
pose that our island will be as pre-eminently 
endowed with it as with coal. 



VIII OF SUPPOSED SUBSTITUTES 189 

Mr. Babbage has applied his rare genius to 
this question, and what he has once said is in- 
capable of improvement. Passing over the period 
which this work considers, when coal will be 
scarce here and plentiful elsewhere, he has 
thrown his thoughts forward to the time when 
coal will be scarce everywhere. Heat, he thinks, 
may then be got from the hot springs of Ischia. 
"In Iceland," he continues,^ "the sources of 
heat are still more plentiful ; and their proximity 
to large masses of ice seems almost to point out 
the future destiny of that island. ... In a 
future age power may become the staple com- 
modity of the Icelanders."^ 

Power is at present our staple commodity, and 

' Economy of Manufactures, 3rd ed. 1833, § 465. 

2 The ultimate exhaustion of the coal supplies of the world has 
been discussed by Lord Kelvin, who pointed out that the fuel 
would last as long as the air, without which it cannot be burned. 
He estimated that " there is not more than 340 million million tons 
of fuel on the earth." The 146 thousand million tons of coal 
estimated by the Argyll Cominission as existing within 4,000 feet 
of depth in the United Kingdom " is approximately six-tenths of a 
ton per square metre of area of Great Britain. To burn it all 
would take one and eight-tenths of a ton of oxygen [per square 
metre], or within two-tenths of a ton of the whole oxygen of the 
atmosphere resting on Great Britain." Adding the estimated re- 
sources below 4,000 feet, " It may be considered as almost quite 
certain that Great Britain could not burn all its own coal with its 
own air," and the conclusion is that Great Britain is considerably 
more richly endowed with coal, in proportion to its area, than 
the rest of the world (British Association for the Advancement 
of Science, Report 1897, pp. 553-4)- 



I90 THE COAL QUESTION ch. viii 

Mr. Babbage clearly saw, more than seventy- 
years ago, that with our coal power must pass 
from us. 

Among the residual possibilities of unforeseen 
events, it is just possible that some day the sun- 
beams may be collected,^ or that some source of 
energy now unknown may be detected. But such 
a discovery would simply destroy our peculiar 
industrial supremacy. The study of electricity 
has already been zealously cultivated on the 
Continent with this view — " England," it is said, 
" is to lose her superiority as a manufacturing 
country, inasmuch as her vast store of coals will 
no longer avail her as an economical source of 
motive power." ^ And while foreigners clearly 
see that the peculiar material energy of England 
depends on coal, we must not dwell in such a 
fool's paradise as to imagine we can do without 
coal what we do with it. 

^ As in the sun-engine reported to be operating successfully in 
California, in which an apparatus of mirrors concentrates the heat 
of the sun on a vessel which serves as a boiler. 

It is obvious that such an appliance is not adapted for extensive 
use in Great Britain, whether or not it can be made effective in 
more favourable climates. 

2 Liebig's Letters on Chemistry, No. 12, p. 154. 



CHAPTER IX 

OF THE NATURAL LAW OF SOCIAL GROWTH 

Before proceeding with the discussion of this 
question we must understand clearly what we 
mean by the progress of a country. We must 
ascertain how that progress is to be measured, 
and when it may be called uniform. 

Suppose it to be stated that in a certain country 
during one year the consumption of coal has 
increased by one million tons. The statement is 
almost useless. We learn from it that the country 
is progressing rather than going backwards, but 
this is all. We do not learn the rate at which it 
is progressing. If the previous consumption were 
only one million tons in a year, the increase 
would be enormous, for it would consist in 
doubling the consumption. With a previous con- 
sumption of ten million tons, the increase, being 
ten per cent, might still be called great. But on 



192 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

the present consumption of England, amounting 
to 167 million tons, an increase of one million is 
not great, being only a fraction of one per cent. 

Again, the population of England and Wales 
increased between 1811 and 1821 by 1,835,980 
persons, and between 1891 and 1901 by 
3,525,318^ persons, but it increased eighteen for 
every hundred of the existing population in the 
former period, and only twelve for every hundred 
in the latter. Though the recent increase was of 
greater absolute, it was of less relative, amount ; 
it was, truly speaking, at a less rate. We ought, 
in short, in statistical matters to treat all quan- 
tities relatively to each other, and we ought to 
cultivate the habit of so regarding them. 

The reason is not far to seek. Each generation 
naturally imitates the earlier one, from which both 
its hereditary character and its education are drawn. 
The son takes after his father — the same in body 
and mind, in passion and in judgment. Individual 
variations of character and career are of course 
innumerable ; but, on the average, it is true that 
the son is as the father. He marries at the same 
age, strives at the same success in business, to 
gain the same fortune, to rear and educate the 
same family. If all things then go on the same, 

' Census of England and Wales, 1901, Summary Tables, p. \. 



IX LAW OF SOCIAL GROWTH 193 

if no deterioration, no new obstacle presents 
itself, a family that rears a double progeny of 
children may expect a fourfold progeny of grand- 
children, and an eightfold progeny of great-grand- 
children. And though this could not be expected 
to occur in a single family subject to every acci- 
dent of life, it may be expected on the average 
of a great mass of cases. 

There are few countries where the population 
has ever doubled by breeding in a single genera- 
tion, but the same reasoning holds good of any 
other rate. We are about doubly as numerous as 
our grandfathers. If we are in other respects 
like them — equally vigorous and enterprising, and 
free from any new exterior obstacles — we may 
expect our grandchildren to be doubly as 
numerous as ourselves. 

This is one way of stating the law that men, 
as well as all living creatures, tend to increase in 
an uniform geometrical ratio. An uniform rate 
of growth means an uniform ratio — an uniform 
percentage of increase — uniform, multiplication in 
equal periods. The law is as true and necessary 
as a mathematical law. // children do as their 
fathers did, they must increase like them ; if they 
do not, some change must have occurred in 
character or circumstances inwardly or outwardly. 

o 



194 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

Such is the principle of population as established 
by Malthus in his celebrated essay. Of the moral 
and social consequences he deduced from that 
principle I need say nothing at present. They 
have been accepted for the most part by political 
economists. But the statement that living beings 
of the same nature and in the same circumstances 
multiply in the same geometrical ratio is self- 
evident when the meaning of the words is once 
properly understood. 

What is true of the mere number of the 
people may be expected to hold true of other 
elements of their condition. If our parents made 
a definite social advance, then, unless we are 
unworthy of our parents, or in different circum- 
stances, we should make a similar advance. If 
our parents doubled their income, or doubled the 
use of iron, or doubled the agricultural produce of 
the country, then so ought we, unless we are 
changed either in character or circumstances. 

But great care is here necessary. We are 
getting to the gist of the subject. Even if we do 
not change in inward character, yet the aggregate 
of our exterior circumstances, our environment, as 
Mr. Spencer expresses it, is usually changing. 
This is what Malthus argued. He said that, 
though our numbers tend to increase in uniform 



IX LAW OF SOCIAL GROWTH 195 

ratio, we cannot expect the same to take place 
with the supply of food. We cannot double the 
produce of the soil, time after time, ad infinitum. 
When we want to double the produce of a field we 
cannot get it by simply doubling the labourers. 
Any quantity of capital, and labour, and skill may 
fail to do it, though discoveries from time to time 
do allow of a considerable increase. Yet the powers 
and capabilities of organic and inorganic nature 
always present this remarkable contrast. The 
former are always relative to the number of ex- 
isting beings, and tend unceasingly to increase. 
But exterior nature presents a certain absolute 
and inexorable limit, uncertain and indefinable 
though that limit may be. 

The whole question turns upon the application 
of these views to the consumption of coal. Our 
subsistence no longer depends upon our produce 
of corn. The momentous repeal of the Corn 
Laws throws us from corn upon coal. It marks, 
at any rate, the epoch when coal was finally 
recognised as the staple produce of the country ; 
— it marks the ascendency of the manufacturing 
interest, which is only another name for the 
development of the use of coal. 

The application of the principle of geometrical 
progression, however, is a little complicated. 

o 2 



196 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

The quantity of coal consumed is really a quantity 
of two dimensions, the number of the people, and 
the average quantity consumed by each. Even 
if each person continued to use an invariable 
quantity of coal per annum, yet the total produce 
would evidently increase in the same ratio as the 
number of the people. But added to this is the 
fact that we do each of us on the average increase 
our consumption of coal from year to year. In 
round numbers, the population has about 
quadrupled since the beginning of the nineteenth 
century, but the consumption of coal has increased 
sixteenfold, and more. The consumption per head 
of the population has therefore increased fourfold. 
Again, the quantity consumed by each indi- 
vidual is a composite quantity, increased either by 
multiplying the scale of former applications of 
coal, or finding wholly new applications. We 
cannot, indeed, always be doubling the length 
of our railways, the magnitude of our ships, and 
bridges, and factories. In every kind of enter- 
prise we shall no doubt meet a natural limit of 
convenience, or commercial practicability, as we 
do in the cultivation of the land. I do not mean 
a fixed and impassable limit, but as it were an 
elastic limit, which we may push against a little 
further, but ever with increasing difficulty. 



IX LAW OF SOCIAL GROWTH 197 

But the new applications of coal are of an 
unlimited character. In the command of energy, 
molecular and mechanical, we have the key to 
all the infinite varieties of change in place and 
kind of which nature is capable. Hardly any 
chemical or mechanical operation, perhaps, is 
quite impossible to us in a physical or scientific 
point of view, and invention consists in discover- 
ing those operations which are both useful and 
commercially possible. No a priori reason here 
presents itself why each generation should not 
use its resources of knowledge and material 
possessions to make as large a proportional 
advance as did the preceding generation. 

And it cannot escape the attention of any 
observant person that our inventions and works 
do multiply in variety and scale of application. 
As Professor Hearn has ably explained in the 
chapter on Invention in his Plutology, each suc- 
cess assists the development of previous suc- 
cesses, and the achievement of new ones. None 
of our inventions can successfully stand alone — 
all are bound together in mutual dependence. 
The iron manufacture depends on the use of 
the steam-engine, and the steam-engine on the 
iron manufacture. Coal and iron are essential 
either in the supply of light or water, and both 



198 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

these are needed in the development of our 
factory system. The advance of the mechanical 
arts gives us vast steam-hammers and mechanical 
tools, and these again enable us to undertake 
works of magnitude and difficulty before deemed 
insuperable. " The tendency of progress," says 
Sir William Armstrong,^ " is to quicken progress, 
because every acquisition in science is so much 
vantage ground for fresh attainment. We may 
expect, therefore, to increase our speed as we 
struggle forward." 

For once it would seem as if in fuel, as the 
source of universal power, we have found an 
unlimited means of extending our command over 
nature. Alas ! No ! The coal is itself limited 
in quantity — not absolutely, as regards us, but so 
that each year we gain our supplies with some 
increase of difficulty. There are unlimited novel- 
ties to make our own, had we unlimited energy 
to use them. 

Such are the a priori principles of our pro- 
gress. But I should be as ill-contented as any 
of my readers to rest the argument upon such 
theory alone. I shall appeal equally to experi- 
ence, and show that some of the main branches 

' Resources of the three Northern Rivers, quoted in the 
Quarterly Journal of Science, No. 2, p. 371. 



IX LAW OF SOCIAL GROWTH 199 

of industry depending upon the use of coal have 
obeyed the law of uniform geometrical increase 
for long terms of years. I can show that, up to 
the year 1865/ we were in an unchecked 
course of discovery and growth — that old appli- 
cations of coal have been extended, and yet admit 
of great extension, while new ones are continually 
being added. And I shall infer that continuance 
of the same course of extension may be expected 
in the absence of any extraordinary influence ; 
that the consumption of coal will increase at a 
nearly constant rate until some check, some 
natural but perhaps elastic boundary of our efforts, 
is encountered. 

For the present our cheap supplies of coal, and 
our skill in its employment, and the freedom of 

1 This date is here inserted, not with any purpose of indicating 
the date at which the " unchecked course ... of growth " met a 
check, but as marking the date to which the proof, as offered in 
the second edition of this work by Jevons himself, extended. In 
his revision of this chapter, probably about fifteen years later, 
the words " up to the present " were left unchanged. It will be 
seen in chap, xii that for about thirty years ending 1904 the rate 
of increase of production of coal in Great Britain has been fairly 
constant, though at a figure substantially less than that of the 
decade ending 1865. Some of the difficulties of increasing depth 
of mines and increased cost of mining, referred to by Jevons in the 
passages immediately following, have been experienced already to 
some extent. In spite of this, the phraseology employed appears 
still sufficiently appropriate not to require recasting at the hands 
of the editor of this edition, and no change not indicated by Jevons 
himself has been made in the later pages of this chapter. 



200 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

our commerce with other wider lands, render us 
independent of the limited agricultural area of 
these islands, and apparently take us out of the 
scope of Mai thus' doctrine. We are growing 
rich and numerous upon a source of wealth of 
which the fertility does not yet apparently de- 
crease with our demands upon it. Hence the 
uniform and extraordinary rate of growth which 
this country presents. We are like settlers 
spreading in a rich new country of which the 
boundaries are yet unknown and unfelt. 

But then I must point out the painful fact that 
such a rate of growth will render our annual 
consumption of coal before long comparable with 
the total supply. In the increasing depth and 
difficulty of coal mining we shall meet that 
vague but inevitable limit which will stop our 
progress. We shall begin, as it were, to discover 
the further shore of our Black Indies. The 
wave of population will break upon that shore, 
and roll back upon itself. And as settlers, unable 
to choose in the far inland new and virgin soil of 
unexceeded fertility, will fall back upon that 
which is next best, and will advance their tillage 
up the mountain side, so we, unable to discover 
new coal-fields as shallow as before, must deepen 
our mines with pain and cost. 



IX LAW OF SOCIAL GROWTH 201 

There is, moreover, this most serious and yet 
obvious difference to be noted. A farm, however 
far pushed, will under proper cultivation continue 
to yield for ever a constant crop. But in a 
mine there is no reproduction ; the produce 
once pushed to the utmost will soon begin to fail 
and sink towards zero. So far, then, as our 
wealth and progress depend upon the superior 
command of coal we must not only cease to pro- 
gress as before — "we must begin a retrograde 
career. 



CHAPTER X 

OF THE GROWTH AND MIGRATIONS OF OUR 
POPULATION 

It is in several ways essential to our inquiry to 
examine, briefly, the increase and movements of 
our population, and the extraordinary effects 
which the growing use of coal has exercised 
upon it. 

Our examination must be restricted to England 
and Wales, or at most to Great Britain. Ireland, 
if referred to at all, must be contrasted with 
England in natural and social condition. Prac- 
tically and commercially Ireland is devoid of coal. 
[Professor Hull's estimate of the total available 
coal in the island puts it at scarcely more than 
would suffice for a single year's consumption for 
the entire United Kingdom.] The total produce 
was 106,000 tons in 1904, and is on the decrease. 
For the most part the quality of the coal is 
inferior, and the cost of mining it great. 



CH. X GROWTH OF OUR POPULATION 203 

Ireland cannot raise a manufacturing system 
alongside of England when she has to buy from 
England the chief requisite of manufacturing 
industry. The manufactures of Ireland have 
been abolished by the steam-engines of England,^ 
and it is a persistent but strange error of authors 
and statesmen to suppose that Ireland can still 
find wealth in imitation and rivalry with England. 
The industrial efforts of the Irish should be 
exerted in a contrary direction to those of 
England, and agriculture and handicraft employ- 
ments in which fuel affords no aid will be their 
best resource. If it be found that such pursuits 
will not sustain an increasing population, we must 
learn to conform to the conditions under which 
we are placed ; and when rightly viewed the 
continued exodus of the Irish people, by which a 
population of 8,196,597 persons in 1841 was 
reduced to 5,798,967 in 1861, [to 5,174,836 in 
1881, and to 4,458,775 in 1901,] is a fact con- 
firming, in the negative way, many conclusions to 
be drawn concerning the progress of our own 
population. 

Scotland will be occasionally referred to. It 
exhibits the bright and dark features of English 
progress, intensified in degree. While the general 

1 H. Fairbairn, Political Economy of Railroads, 1836, p. 108. 



204 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

rise of Scotch industry, especially in the cases of 
the Glasgow iron trade and the lowland agri- 
culture, surpasses the highest instances of English 
progress, the poverty and distress of the High- 
land and sterile parts, and the emigration thence 
arising, exceed anything we have suffered in the 
agricultural parts of England. But the want of 
statistical data concerning Scotland and Ireland 
would generally oblige us to give our attention 
to England alone, were this not also desirable for 
the sake of simplicity. 

The table on the opposite page exhibits the 
progress of the population of England and Wales 
for more than three centuries, according to the 
most reliable estimates and enumerations. 

The estimates for the sixteenth, seventeenth, 
and eighteenth centuries, however carefully cal- 
culated from the registers of births, deaths, and 
marriages, and from other data, are not true to a 
nicety ; but they afford at any rate conclusive 
evidence that in the first half of the eighteenth 
century the population was nearly stationary, and 
occasionally diminishing. About the middle of 
the century, it began to grow again ; and the rate 
of growth rose until, in the beginning of the 
nineteenth century, it reached a height altogether 
unprecedented in the history of the country. 
In the period 1811-21 especially, we find the 



X GROWTH OF OUR POPULATION 205 

POPULATION OF ENGLAND AND WALES 



Year 


Population 


Numerical 

increase for ten 

years 


1 
Rate of increase 
per cent for ten 
years 


1570 


4,160,321 •■ 






1600 


4,811,718 


217,132 


5 increase 


1630 


5,600,517 


262,933 


5 


1670 


5,773,646 


43,282 


I 


1700 


6,045,008 


90,454 


2 


I70I 


6,121,5252 






171I 


6,252,105 


130,580 


2 


172I 


6,252,750 


645 





173I 


6,182,972 


—69,778 


I decrease 


1 741 


6,153,227 


—29,745 


„ 


1751 


6,335,840 


182,613 


3 increase 


I761 


6,720,547 


384,707 


6 „ 


1771 


7,153,494 


432,947 


6 „ 


I781 


7,573,787 


420,293 


6 „ 


I79I 


8,255,617 


681,830 


9 


1 801 


8,892,536 3 


636,919 


II 


181I 


10,164,256 


1,271,720 


14 „ 


182I 


12,000,236 


1,835,980 


18 


183I 


13,896,797 


1,896,561 


16 


184I 


15,914,148 


2,007,351 


14 


185I 


17,927,609 


2,007,461 


13 


1861 


20,066,224 


2,138,615 


12 


187I 


22,712,266 


2,646,042 


13 


1881 


25,974,439 


3,262,173 


14 


189I 


29,002,525 


3,028,086 


12 


190I 


32,527,843 


3,525,318 


12 



1 Preface to Census Returns 0/1841, pp. 34-37- 

2 1701-1791 including Army, etc., abroad : Census of 1861, 
General Report, p. 22. See the Diagram fronting the title-page. 

3 1801-1901 excluding Army, etc., abroad. In 1801-1831 the 



2o6 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

increase as high as i8 per cent, or treble 
the rate which prevailed in the previous half 
century. 

In passing I will draw attention to the fact 
that the ratios or rates per cent of increase show 
some approach to uniformity over considerable 
periods of time. The simple numerical increase 
of population presents no such uniformity, and 
in late times is thoroughly divergent. In fact 
the arithmetic increase of the four years 1857- 
186 1 was as great as that of the whole century, 
1651-1751.^ It is clear, from the mere inspec- 
tion of the table, that the notion of an arithTnetic 
series is wholly inapplicable to matters of popu- 
lation and statistics. We must look to the ratio 
or proportional rate of increase, as measuring 
progress or marking the changes of condition of 
our population. 

Looking now to the rates of increase after 



Army at home and men on shore belonging to the Royal Navy or 
to the Merchant Service are also excluded. In computing the 
rates of increase between 1791 and 1801, and between 1831 and 
1 84 1, the figures for such groups have been either included or 
excluded in each of the years compared. Thus, including the 
Army, &c., abroad, the population in 1801 was 9,192,810, and it is 
this figure which gives an increase of 11 per cent, on 1791 {Census 
of England and Wales, 1901, Summary Tables, p. i). 

' General Report upon the Census q/" 1861, p. 22. The addition 
in the two years 1899-1901 was as great as that of the century 
named (cf. Preliminary Report on the Census of igoi, p. viii). 



X GROWTH OF OUR POPULATION 207 

1821, we are at once struck by a very distinct 
and continuous decrease maintained for five 
consecutive decades. The rate of 18 per 
cent diminishes successively to 16, 14, 13, 
and 12 per cent. There is an appearance of 
convergency — of a new approach to a stationary 
condition. 

[This appearance of convergency has not been 
maintained at the later dates shown in the table.] 
Properly examined, indeed, this appearance is 
found to be very deceptive. When necessary 
allowances are made, our growth during the half- 
century in question is seen to have been one of 
increasing rapidity. 

In the first place, a nation is a very composite 
whole, of which each part may change at its 
own rate. Our population especially is divided 
into the distinct agricultural and manufacturing 
masses — contrasted as they are in every point \oi 
nature, history, and social condition. The one 
represents Old England in its maturity ; the 
other. New England, the greater in numbers, 
yet still growing as in youth. 

We may compare the condition of these two 
great portions by means of the rates of progress 
of some of the most purely agricultural and 
most purely manufacturing counties : — 



208 



THE COAL QUESTION chap. 



INCREASE OF POPULATION PER CENT' 























s 


Agricultural 


y 


T' 


1 


r 


Y' 


f 


t^ 


CO 


0. 


M 


Counties 


o 

CO 




CO 


s 


Tl- 


CO 


*o 


00 


00 

OS 


■s 


Bucks . . 


9 


14 


9 


6 


5 


3 


5 





5 


6 


Cambs. . . 


13 


21 


18 


14 


13 


-5 


6 


- I 


2 




Devon . . 


12 


IS 


13 


7 


6 


3 


3 





5 




Dorset . . 


9 


16 


10 


10 


5 


2 


4 


— 2 


2 




Hereford . 


6 


10 


8 


2 


2 


7 


I 


-3 


-4 


-I 


Norfolk . . 


7 


18 


13 


6 


7 


-2 


1 


I 


2 




Somerset . 


10 


17 


13 


8 


2 





4 


I 


3 




Suffolk . . 


9 


16 


9 


6 


7 





3 


2 


4 




Westmorld. 


12 


12 


7 


3 


3 


4 


7 


-I 


3 


-3 


Wilts . . . 


4 


14 


8 


8 


- I 


-2 


3 


I 


2 


3 



INCREASE OF 


POPULATION 


PER 


CENT 






Manufacturing 


» 


» 


» 


5- 


M 


"? 


t^ 


M 


1-1 




a. 

v 


Counties 


1 


03 


1 


M 




00 


CO 


CO 


1 


On 
00 


Durham . . . 


10 


17 


24 


29 


27 


30 


35 


27 


17 


17 


Lancaster . . 


22 


27 


27 


24 


22 


20 


16 


23 


14 


12 


Monmouth . . 


35 


22 


29 


36 


17 


II 


12 


8 


20 


16 


Northumber- i \ 
land . . j 


9 


IS 


II 


12 


14 


13 


13 


12 


17 


19 


Stafford . . . 


21 


17 


18 


24 


20 


23 


15 


14 


10 


14 


Glamorgan . . 


19 


20 


24 


35 


35 


37 


25 


29 


34 


25 



Comparing the above tables, we see that in 
the period 181 1-2 1 both the agricultural and 
manufacturing populations were in a state of 

' Census of England and Wales, 1901, Summary Tables 
(Ancient Counties), p. 7. The negative sign (— ) indicates a 
decrease of population, as in the cases of Cambridge and Wilt- 
shire. 



X GROWTH OF OUR POPULATION 209 



rapid increase. To this is due the extraordinary 
general rate of increase of the population, namely 
eighteen per cent during those ten years. But 
the subsequent rapid decline of the agricultural 
rate shows how impossible it was for a growing 
population to find subsistence on the land. And 
when we remember the prevalence of pauperism 
during the period 181 1-2 1 we shall be con- 
vinced that the increase of agricultural population 
which did occur was unsound and not warranted 
by any corresponding increase in the means of 
living. 

The following numbers express the average 
sum contributed by each person in England and 
Wales to the legal support of the poor : ^ — 



1 801 
I8II . 
I82I 
I83I 
I84I . 
I85I . 
I86I . 
I87I . 
I88I . 
I89I 
I90I . 













s. 


d. 


9 


I 


13 


I 


10 


7 


9 


9 


6 





5 


7 


5 


10 


7 





6 


3i 


6 





7 


2 



Some allowance ought to be made for the varia- 
tion in the value of the currency, but the pres- 

1 Porter's Progress, 1851, p. 91, and Annual Reports of the 
Local Government Board. 



2IO THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

sure of pauperism in the early years of the nine- 
teenth century would still remain about double 
what it became after the middle of the century. 
And this pressure was chiefly felt in the agricul- 
tural counties. Mr. Porter, in his Progress of 
the Nation^ gave a table whence it clearly ap- 
peared " that the burthen of the poor's rate in 
proportion to the population is generally greatest 
in the most agricultural counties. Suffolk, Nor- 
folk, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, 
Essex, and Cambridgeshire, all essentially agri- 
cultural, are the most heavily burthened with 
poor ; while Lancashire, the West Riding of 
Yorkshire, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Nottingham- 
shire, and Derbyshire, which are of an opposite 
character, enjoy a comparative exemption from 
that burthen." This clearly marked difference 
prevents us from attributing the excessive pau- 
perism of the time to the wars, or the high price 
of corn, which last circumstance ought to favour 
the agricultural, at the expense of the manufac- 
turing population. 

The laxness of the Poor-laws, the impetus 

communicated by the rise of our manufacturing 

and trading system, the demand for soldiers, 

and perhaps other causes, seem to have induced 

> Ed. 1851, pp. 96-97. 



X GROWTH OF OUR POPULATION 211 

throughout the United Kingdom, in the early- 
part of the nineteenth century, habits of un- 
restricted marriage which, in the absence of any 
extraordinary outlet for the growing population, 
could only lead to poverty. In Ireland the result 
of an unsound but rapid growth of agricultural 
population was that extraordinary emigration 
which is not yet stopped. In the Scotch High- 
lands the result was hardly less deplorable, or the 
emigration less remarkable, though on a minor 
scale. The harshness of nature rather than the 
harshness of the landlords is the cause of this 
emigration, which is clearly shown in the follow- 
ing rates of progress and regress : — 



INCREASE OR DECREASE OF POPULATION PER CENT I 



Scotch 
Highland 
Counties 


1 


f 


w 








1 


i 


f 

CO 


H 


T 

0\ 


Argyll . . . 
Ross . . . 
Inverness . . 
Sutherland . 


6 
8 

7 
2 


12 

13 
16 

I 


4 
9 
5 
7 


—4 
5 
3 

—3 


—9 

S 

— I 

4 


II 

— 2 

—9 

— 2 


—5 
— I 
— I 
—4 


I 

—3 

3 

—4 


— 2 
— I 
— I 

—6 


1 

—3 


— 2 



It is interesting to compare the rates of 
progress in the highland counties with those 

^ Census of Scotland, 1901, Preliminary Report, pp. 15-18. The 
negative sign ( — ) indicates a decrease of population. 

P 2 



212 



THE COAL QUESTION 



CHAP. 



in counties where the coal and iron trades 
flourish : — 

INCREASE OF POPULATION PER CENT 



Scotch 

Manufacturing 

Counties 


1 


I 


TO 


7" 

CO 

CO 


r 

■* 


i 

CO 


to. 

1 

M 

l-t 


1 
00 


0^ 
TO 


1 


Ayr . . . 
Lanark . 
Renfrew 


23 
29 
18 


23 
28 
20 


14 
30 
19 


13 

34 
16 


15 
24 

3 


5 
10 


I 

21 

22 


8 

18 
21 


4 
16 
10 


12 
21 
17 



Now in England our agricultural population has 
received a check similar to that in the Scotch 
Highlands. No inconsiderable numbers have 
gone abroad, but in general the surplus country- 
population has been drafted into the towns. 
Those nourished among sheep-pastured hills, or 
richly tilled fields, in the quiet village, or the 
lonely hut, are attracted to the crowded, squalid 
alleys, the busy workshop, or the gloomy mine. 

Mr. Smiles has explained how the population 
of a hill-girt district, like Eskdale, is kept 
stationary from generation to generation. " Oh, 
they swarm off," said a native to him. " If they 
remained at home we should all be sunk in 
poverty, scrambling with each other among these 
hills for a bare living." ^ 

1 Lives of the Engineers, vol. ii, p. 291. 



X GROWTH OF OUR POPULATION 213 

It is indeed true, as remarked by Mr. Rick- 
man,^ that an increase of population " may be 
deemed a solid good, or a dreadful evil, accord- 
ing to the circumstances of the country in which 
it occurs. If a commensurate increase of food 
and of raiment can be produced by agriculture 
and by manufacture, an accession of consumers 
in the home market cannot but be beneficial to 
all parties ; and the increase of population in 
such case may be deemed equally desirable in 
itself, and conducive to national strength and 
national prosperity." 

The effects of an unwarranted growth of popu- 
lation are seen in the poverty of our own agri- 
cultural counties and in the wretchedness of 
Ireland and the Scotch Highlands. 

It is our towns which alone afford the growing 
subsistence which is the warrant of an increment 
of population. They not only have room for 
their own native born, but engulf the best blood 
of the country districts. They afford that un- 
limited subsistence, which could alone enable our 
population to approach a constant geometrical 
rate of increase. 

But it must not be supposed that our towns 
have maintained a constant rate of growth. I 

1 Preliminary Observations to Population Abstracts, 1822, p. xxx. 



214 



THE COAL QUESTION chap. 



have chosen thirty of the most progressive and 
important English manufacturing towns, and 
summed up the number of their inhabitants.^ 

' The list of the towns selected by Jevons is not available, 
and attempts to recover it have not been successful. Changes of 
area introduce some difficulty in long comparisons. Thus the 
figures given in the Census Reports for 1891 and 1901, as 
representing the population of certain of the towns in 1851 and 
1 861, are not precisely the same in the two reports. Hence it 
seems impossible to claim that the figures of earlier reports 
accurately represent the population decade by decade of the 
localities covered by a given list of urban designations to-day. 

Using the figures of the Census Report of 1901 (Summary 
Tables, pp. 102-3), the following shows the aggregate population of 
thirty English manufacturing towns, omitting London and sea- 
ports, and of seventeen seaport towns, not including London. 





Thirty manufacturing tovi'ns 


Seventeen seaport towns 






Increase 






Increase 






Numerical 


per 




Numerical 


per 


Year 


Population 


m crease in 


cent 


Population 


increase in 


cent 






ten years 


in ten 
years 




ten years 


in ten 
years 


1851 


2,221,000 






1,052,000 






1861 


2,682,000 


461,000 


21 


1,315,000 


263,000 


25 


1871 


3,155,000 


473,coo 


18 


1,617,000 


302,000 


23 


1881 


3,778,000 


623,000 


20 


1,983,000 


366,000 


23 


1891 


4,301,000 


523.000 


14 


2,322,000 


339,000 


17 


1901 


4,789,000 


488,000 


II 


2,680,000 


358,000 


T5 



In considering the reduction of the rates of growth, both in this 
table itself, and as compared with that in the text, it must be 
remembered that the figures, in many cases, fail to include large 
suburban populations, and that a great part of the reduction in rate 
of growth may be assigned to this failure of the later figures to 
represent the whole populations of the urban aggregation fully 
comprised in the figures for earlier dates. The higher rates of 
growth in towns dependent on shipping and shipbuilding, as 
compared with manufacturing proper, are worthy of notice. 



X GROWTH OF OUR POPULATION 215 

MANUFACTURING TOWNS (NOT INCLUDING 
LONDON) 



Year 


Population 


Numerical increase 
in ten years 


Rate of increase 

per cent in ten 

years 


180I 


623,000 






181I 


763,000 


140,000 


22 


182I 


991,000 


228,000 


30 


1831 


1,352,000 


361,000 


36 


184I 


1,763,000 


411,000 


30 


1851 


2,220,000 


457,000 


26 


1861 


2,679,000 


459,000 


21 



Such numbers alone give us an adequate notion 
of our powers of growth. Our manufacturing 
population more than quadrupled itself in sixty 
years ; it multiplied at a rate equivalent to 
doubling in twenty-eight years. When the new 
is thus viewed apart from the old, our growth is 
seen to have been that rather of a new colony 
than of an ancient settled country whose history 
runs back 2,000 years. And when it is con- 
sidered that this country and the busy towns in 
question have been sending forth the hundreds 
of thousands of emigrants who populate America, 
Australia, and Africa, I assert, without fear of 
contradiction, that the annals of the newest and 
most flourishing settlements afford nothing so 
truly astonishing as our growth. England enjoys 
the stable society, the refinements and comforts. 



2i6 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

the intellectual and historical renown which be- 
long to an ancient, mature, and honourable 
monarchy. But she joins the good new to the 
good old in a manner elsewhere unknown. In 
our spreading towns, in our factories and fleets, 
not to speak of our arts and sciences, our yet 
living literature, and our constitution still per- 
haps changing for the better, we see the great 
work which is given into our care to carry on in 
moderation for the good of ourselves, our pos- 
terity, and the world. 

But, to return, it will be seen that the rate of 
progress of our town population dropped from 
thirty-six per cent in 182 1-3 1 to twenty-one 
per cent in 1 851-61. Is not this an indication 
that even our town population is overrunning its 
means of subsistence, and that we are now con- 
verging to a stationary condition ? This is far 
from being true as yet ;^ but in any case our 

' Jevons added here, "The rates of increase will probably 
not continue falling." The footnote on p. 214 seems to contradict 
this anticipation. How far the reason there indicated for the 
fall suffices to account for the entire reduction cannot be 
known with accuracy. The modern means of locomotion are 
facilitating concentration for working purposes at the same time 
that a considerable dispersion for purposes of residence occurs. 
Some look forward to a dispersion for working purposes as well. 
Now that more than three-fourths of the entire population is found 
in urban districts, it is clear that their high rate of growth cannot 
be maintained for much longer by immigration from the rural 
districts. 



X GROWTH OF OUR POPULATION 217 

industry is divergent ; and the more so, the more 
nearly we regard it in its first spring. It is the 
high rate of progress maintained by Durham and 
Glamorgan that most truly represents the pro- 
gress of our national industry. The growth of 
the populations of those counties has been already 
shown, but the steady progress of our great 
northern coal trade is still more clearly shown 
in the following accounts of the united popula- 
tions of the five great coal towns, Newcastle, 
Gateshead, Tynemouth, South Shields, and Sun- 
derland.^ 

NORTHERN COAL TOWNS 



Year 


Population 


Numerical increase 
in ten years 


Rate of increase 

per cent in ten 

years 


180I 


90,825 






181I 


99,889 


9,064 


10 


182I 


125,128 


25,239 


25 


183I 


151,487 


26,359 


21 


184I 


192,283 


40,796 


27 


1851 


236,216 


43,933 


23 


1861 


293,707 


57,491 


24 


187I 


359>655 


65,948 


22 


1881 


428,733 


69,078 


14 


1 891 


528,657 


99,924 


23 


I90I 


619,922 


91,265 


17 



1 Jevons' figures for 1851 and 1861 have been replaced by those 
given in the report of the Census of 1901 (Summary Tables, 
pp. 102-3), with which they were not quite identical. 



21 8 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

London, too, a kind of great resultant and mea- 
sure of the rest of the kingdom, held a nearly- 
constant rate for the first three-quarters of the 
nineteenth century — 

POPULATION OF LONDON ' 



Year 


Population of 
London 


Numerical increase 
in ten years 


Rate of increase 

per cent in ten 

years 


180I 


959,310 






1811 


i>i39>35S 


180,045 


19 


182I 


1,379,543 


240,188 


21 


1831 


1,655,582 


276,039 


20 


184I 


1,949,277 


293,69s 


18 


1851 


2,363,341 


414,064 


21 


1861 


2,808,494 


445,153 


19 


1871 


3,261,396 


452,902 


16 


1881 


3,830,297 


568,901 


17 


189I 


4,228,317 


398,020 


10 


1901 


4,536,541 


308,224 


7 



^ Even as late as 1881, this table shows the "nearly constant" 
rate noted by Jevons. The small increases of the last two decades 
may be compared with the following, which gives the population of 
Greater London — the Metropolitan Police District. 



Year 


Population of 
Greater London 


Numerical increase 
in ten years 


Rate of increase per 
cent in ten years 


1861 


3,322,720 






1871 


3,885,641 


662,921 


21 


i88i 


4,766,661 


881,020 


23 


1891 


5,633,806 


867,145 


18 


1901 


6,580,616 


946,810 


17 



This table shows that the population of the Registration County 



X GROWTH OF OUR POPULATION 219 

The appearance of convergency which our popu- 
lation as a whole presented forty years ago was 
due to emigration. And this emigration was not 
a mere adventitious and disturbing circumstance. 
It was an integral part — the complement of our 
general development. The more we grow at 
home upon our mineral resources and manufac- 
turing skill, the greater demands we make for 
food and raw materials. And it is to a great 
extent our demand which raises wages in our 
American, Australian, and African settlements 
to rates that attract our population abroad. The 
discoveries of gold have added only an accidental 
and temporary attraction from time to time. 

Modern Britain does not and could not stand 
alone. It is united on the one hand to ancient 
agricultural Britain, and on the other hand to 
the modern agricultural nations of our stock, 
which are growing in several continents. Of the 
same language and manners, and bound together 
in the same real interests of trade, Britain and 

of London has become entirely inadequate as an index to the 
growth of the real London. It confirms the suggestion that 
apparent failure of cities to maintain the former rate of increase is 
largely due to the development of suburbs, more and more distant 
from the centre, from decade to decade. The high rate of increase 
of population in urban sanitary districts of from 50,000 to 100,000 
inhabitants in each of the last two intercensal periods, namely, 
23 per cent, may also be noted in this connection. 



220 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

her colonial offspring must be regarded for the 
present as a single whole. Our own agricultural 
area being essentially limited, the offspring of 
the agricultural population must find employ- 
ment either in our towns or abroad. And the 
growth of our towns requires a corresponding 
growth of our foreign agricultural settlements. 

But it must not be supposed that the emigra- 
tion from England [here in question, namely, that 
of the fifties and sixties,] was caused by internal 
pressure.-' It arose rather from the external 
allurements which the colonial settlements offer 
in high wages, independence, and a certain charm 
of novelty and adventure not to be overlooked. 
The Irish emigration of 1847, indeed, was caused 
by internal pressure, and is to be contrasted to 
that still going on, and which is due to a positive 
attraction exercised upon the Irish by American 
prosperity. So the gold discoveries formed at- 
tractions which greatly accelerated English emi- 
gration, and aided the development of colonies 
now so important to our trade. 

When once planted in almost boundless areas 

1 The statement that " it must not be supposed that emigration 
from England is caused by internal pressure" is probably nearly, if 
not quite, as true at the beginning of the twentieth century as it 
was forty years ago. In the interval a period has been passed 
through when it was not entirely true. 



X GROWTH OF OUR POPULATION 221 

of rich country, like those of North America, 
AustraHa, and South Africa, population is free to 
multiply at a new rate, and to manifest its geo- 
metrical tendency, relieved of the checks which 
Malthus showed to be a usual restraint. 

But the important result to us is the secondary 
effect of foreign British population in trading 
with the centres of manufacturing industry, and 
stimulating the growth of our wealth and num- 
bers at home. Food and raw materials are poured 
upon us from abroad, and our subsistence is 
gained by returning manufactures and articles 
of refinement of an equal value. Provided our 
skill, our capital, but, above all, our motive 
power, coal, be equal to the continuous drain, 
there is no pitch of material wealth and great- 
ness to which our towns might not attain, when 
thus supplied from our foreign agricultural set- 
tlements with the other elements of subsistence. 
For the present, it would seem that our home 
resources are unweakened, and equal to any 
probable demands. 

Hence it is that, in our most crowded towns, 
we have, in the development of our manufacturing 
and coal-consuming system, means of subsistence 
which for the present remove Malthusian checks 
to increase. Whether our children stay at home. 



222 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

or whether they go abroad, there is the same 
addition of useful labour, in fields of undiminished 
fertility, and the same inducements to a future 
continued multiplication. 

The proof that this was the true state of affairs — 
that the greatly increased emigration of the fifties 
was not due to poverty and pressure at home, but 
rather to attractions abroad — that our increase of 
population was rather under than above the in- 
creasing means of subsistence — may be found in 
many gratifying facts concerning our wealth, 
comfort, and contentment ; but it is most strikingly 
shown in our marriage-registers. Poverty and 
superfluity of population would tend to restrain 
marriage, and free emigration would then, at the 
most, allow the continuance of the usual rate 
of marriage. Malthus, Ricardo, and other eco- 
nomists of the same period, were too much in- 
clined to regard this as the normal state of society. 
Population seemed to them always full to the 
brim, so that each ship-load taken to the colonies 
would no more tend to empty the country, than a 
bucketful of water would tend to empty the ever- 
running fountain from which it is drawn. They 
could not bring themselves to imagine such a 
state of things in this country, that one man 



X GROWTH OF OUR POPULATION 223 

should not stand in another's way, and that men, 
rather than subsistence, should be lacking. But 
that this country, [in the third quarter of the nine- 
teenth century,] did make some approach to such 
a happy condition, is conclusively shown by the 
extraordinary spread of marriage then recorded. 

" Marriages express the hopes and fears of the 
country. They go on at all seasons, and at all 
times ; but prudence makes them fluctuate, so 
that the more and the less indicate the feelings 
with which the great body of the people regard 
their prospects in the world." ^ Every year of 
depressed trade and distress leaves its mark upon 
the returns of the Registrar-General, in the shape 
of diminished marriage ; and every period of 
prosperity has a contrary effect. The returns, in 
consequence, are in no slight degree irregular ; 
but, treating the numbers of marriages in periods 
of ten years, we get the results shown on the 
following page. The very considerable rise in 
the marriage rate is a fact of the utmost signi- 
ficance. The rise in the decade 1851-60 is all 
the more remarkable when compared with the 
low rate of increase of persons of marriageable 
age, as shown on p. 230. 

1 Quarterly Report of the Registrar-General, 1849. 



224 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

MARRIAGES IN ENGLAND AND WALES 



I80I-IO 


Number of marriages 


Numerical increase 


Rate of increase 
per cent 


832,151 






1 81 1-20 


910,434 


78,283 


10 


1821-30 


1,052,095 


141,661 


15 


1831-40 


1,179,615 


127,520 


12 


1841-50 


i>3S4,988 


175,373 


15 


1851-60 


1,600,596 


245,608 


18 


1861-70 


1,769,624 


169,028 


II 


1871-80 


1,960,146 


190,522 


II 


1881-90 


2,047,428 


87,282 


5 


I89I-I900 


2,394,105 


346,677 


17 



In stating the marriage returns for the quarter 
ending September, 1865, the Registrar-General 
says : " The rate was much above the average. 
Weddings were more rife than they were in the 
previous summer, or in the summer of any year 
since registration began. This impHes that the 
great body of the people were prosperous." 

The increasing frequency of marriage presents 
a strong contrast to the failing rate of increase of 
the total population in the fifties. It shows con- 
clusively that no such thing as an internal check 
to population in England existed at that time, and 
that Nature was taking its appropriate means to 
remedy the drain from outward attractions.^ 
1 The increase of marriages in the last decade of the nineteenth 



X GROWTH OF OUR POPULATION 225 

Striking confirmatory evidence of the in- 
creasing frequency of marriage in the decade 
1851-61 is derived from a comparison of the 
returns of the censuses concerning the conjugal 
condition of the people. It is found that the 
number of married persons increased 16 per cent 
between 1851 and 1861, or 4 per cent more 
than the general population ; while the unmarried 
women of the age 20 — 40 years increased but 
little, and the unmarried men of the same age 
scarcely at all. The numbers are as follows : — ^ 



Husbands 


Wives 


1851 . . . . 2,958,564 


• 3,015,634 


1861 ... . 3,428,443 


• 3,488,952 


Increase . 469,879 


473,318 


Rate of increase 16 per cent 


16 per cent 


Bachelors 


Spinsters 


1851 . . . . 1,198,050 . . 


1,168,386 


1861 . 1,201,576 . 


1,229,051 


Increase . 3,526 . . 


60,665 


Rate of increase /jj per cent 


5 per cent 



century, especially when contrasted with the comparative stagna- 
tion of marriages in the eighties, offers a similar testimony to the 
renewed confidence of the people in their prosperitj'. 
1 The figures for i8gi and 1901 are : 





Husbands 


Wives 


i8qi . . . 


4>85i,548 


4,916,649 


1901 . 


5,611,381 


5,717,537 


Increase . 


7591833 


800,888 


Rate of increase. 


16 per cent . 


16 per cent 



The increase of married persons at a rate 4 per cent greater 
than that of the entire population does not arise in this case from a 
check in the increase of bachelors and spinsters. Compared with 
the preceding decade, such a check is discernible, but the following 



226 



THE COAL QUESTION 



CHAP. 



To complete this chapter, it would be desirable 
to present such accounts of the number of emi- 
grants from England as would quantitatively 
prove emigration to have been that check to our 
population which we have considered it ; but 
statistics are here deficient. Accounts of the 
number of emigrants since 1814 have been 

table shows that the unmarried population at marriageable ages 
was still increasing faster than the general population. 



Census 
Year 


Of icx),ooo males over 15 years 
of age 


Of 100,000 females over 15 years 
of age 


Unmarried 


Married 


Widowed 


Unmarried 


Married 


Widowed 


1851 
1861 
1871 
1881 
1891 
1901 


41.103 

38,783 
38,402 
39,180 
40,580 
41,111 


52,924 
S5,4oo 
55,869 
55,324 
54,020 
53,629 


5,973 
5,817 
5,7=9 
5,496 
5,400 
5,260 


38,539 
36,892 
36,136 
36,738 
38,66s 
39,548 


50,399 
51,860 
52,234 
51,638 
49,920 
49,632 


11,062 
11,248 
11,630 
11,624 
11,415 
10,820 



The fact is that the reduced mortality of the later decades of the 
nineteenth century, affecting especially the younger part of the 
population, say up to 25 years of age, gives so many more 
survivals, from a given number of births, than formerly that the 
increase at the marriageable ages has been at a rate about 50 per 
cent above the general rate of increase of the population in 
the decade 1891-1901, the population at ages 20 — 40 having 
increased by 19-5 per cent as compared with i2'2 per cent 
increase of the total population. In the preceding decade the 
rates of increase were I4"9 for those aged 20 — 40 com- 
pared with 11-65 for the population at large. The younger 
marriages and consequent more numerous children of 30 to 
40 years ago have yielded a relatively large population of adults. 
When Jevons wrote the average age of marriage was still falling. 
It has recently been rising. It may be noted that the marriage 
rates of the years 1 897-1 902 were higher than any since 1876. 



X GROWTH OF OUR POPULATION 227 

published ; but unfortunately no record of the 
nationality of the emigrants has been preserved. 
The large and fluctuating amounts of Irish and 
Scotch emigration render the accounts [up to the 
middle of the century] quite inapplicable to 
England ; but from the accounts, such as they 
are, I form the following table of emigration to 
the several parts of the world : — 



EMIGRATION 


FROM THE UNITED KINGDOM 


Period of 
Years 


United States 


North Ameri- 
can Colonies 


Australasian 
Colonies 


Elsewhere 


Total 


1815-20 


50,359 


70,438 


— 


2,731 


123,528 


1821-30 


99,801 


139,269 


8,935 


1,805 


249,810 


1831-40 


308,247 


322,485 


67,882 


4,536 


703,150 


1841-50 


1,094,556 


429,044 


127,124 


34,168 


1,684,892 


1851-60 


1,495,243 


235,28s 


506,802 


49,875 


2,287,20s 


1861-70 


1,132,626 


130,310 


267,358 


41,535 


1,572,029 


1871-80 


1,087,372 


177,976 


303,367 


1 10,204 


1,678,919 


1881-90 


1,713,953 


301,922 


372,744 


169,916 


2,558,535 


1891-00 


1,145,904 


186,976 


127,681 


282,229 


1,742,790 


Total 


8,128,061 


1,993,605 


1,781,893 


696,999 


12,600,858 



Statistics of the immigration into the United 
States ^ enable us to gain some notion of the in- 
crease of English emigration apart from that of 
the Irish and Scotch [in the years preceding the 

^ Bromwell on Immigration, p. 176. 

Q 2 



228 



THE COAL QUESTION 



CHAP. 



gathering of English statistics of the nationality 
of emigrants]. In the American accounts, in- 
deed, the nationality of the larger part of the 
immigrants is not stated ; but if we divide the 
number of the undistinguished immigrants, in 
periods of ten years, in the proportion of the 
numbers of those whose birthplace is distin- 
guished, we get the following probable numbers 
of immigrants to the United States, whose birth- 
place was in England or Wales : — ^ 



1821-30 
1831-40 
1841-50 
1851-55 



Persons. 

25,365 
55,676 

175.253 
203,508 



I Since the beginning of 1853 the nationality of emigrants has 
been registered in our Custom-house accounts ; and the estimate 
of the Census Commissioners (Census of 1861, Population Tables, 
vol. i, p. xxxii), together with the later returns on the same subject 
(Census of England and Wales, 1901, Preliminary Report, p. 138), 
afford the following : — 

Emigrants of British Nationality 



Intercensal period 


English 


Scotch and Irish 


Total British 


1851-61 


640,316 


1,414,262 


2,054,578 


1861-71 


649,742 


1,024,852 


1.674.594 


1871-81 


996,038 


701, 68r 


1,697,719 


1B81-91 


1,572.717 


1,020,509 


2,593,226 


1891-1901 


1,110,584 


653,107 


1,763,691 



From 1876 the record of inward passengers from places out of 
Europe shows how many of these were of British nationality. In 
the five years 1876-80, the inward movement reached nearly 40 



X GROWTH OF OUR POPULATION 229 

Emigrants are chiefly young men and women. 
The following figures give the proportional num- 
bers of immigrants at New York, and the other 
ports of entry in the United States, for three 
intervals of age : — ^ 

Years of Age 

9 — 15 22 

15—30 50 

30—45 282 

In short, three out of four emigrants are marriage- 
able, or recently married. 

The effect of emigration upon the ages of our 
population is strikingly shown in the following 
numbers, which express the rates of increase per 
cent between 1851 and 1861, of the numbers of 
persons in England and Wales between the ages 
stated : — ^ 

per cent of the strength of the outward movement. In the decade 
1881-90 it was about one-third, and in the decade 1891-1900 
nearly 60 per cent of the emigration. In these figures English are 
not separated from Scotch and Irish. 
' Abstract of Seventh Census of the United States, p. 14. 

2 Including, in the American authority, " the small number at 
older ages." 

The later accounts do not make the division at 30 years of 
age, but show separately those over 40. The proportion under 
15 fell to 16 per cent in 1 891-1900, while 9 per cent were over 
40 years of age, a smaller figure than in either of the two pre- 
ceding decades. 

3 Census, 1861, Appendix to General Report, p. in. 

The following table shows more precisely the ages affected by 
emigration in 1851-61 than the figures of the text, and shows that 



230 



THE COAL QUESTION 



CHAP. 



Age 

o — 20 years 
20 — 40 „ 
40 — 60 „ 
60—80 „ 
80-100 „ 



Rate of increase 
per cent 

12-0 



i6'o 

i4'o 

5-8 



The low rate of increase for the ages 20 — 40 
years is very remarkable, and these numbers 
alone prove that our population, but for the 
emigration going on, would have increased at the 
rate of 14 or 15 per cent instead of 12 per cent. 

It is in strict accordance with the known prin- 
ciples of population, that the great gap in the 
procreative powers of the population, caused by 

the emigration preceding 1851, as well as that of 1851-61, was 
concerned in producing the figures shown : — 

Rates of Increase per cent 



Age 


1841-51 


1851-61 


i86i-7i 


1871-81 


1881-91 


1891-1901 


0-15 


10-58 


12-53 


14-71 


15*44 


7 '43 


3*67 


15-25 


8-85 


9-88 


11-24 


16*49 


14*81 


1375 


25-35 


12*09 


7-62 


13*01 


I3'S6 


15-40 


20-06 


35-55 


16-93 


14-90 


11-54 


11*94 


13-91 


18-41 


55- 


19-46 


I4'34 


14-92 


12*71 


11-27 


14-24 


All ages 


12-65 


11-90 


13*21 


14*36 


11-65 


12*17 



The figures for the youngest group are remarkable and deserve 
study. A detailed examination would be out of place here. It 
may be noted that the low figure for the last intercensal period is 
due largely to the falling off in births in the eighties and early 
nineties. For ages under 5 years the last intercensal interval 
shows a more rapid advance than the preceding. 

The exceptional nature of the movement of 1841-61 is shown by 
the table. 



X GROWTH OF OUR POPULATION 231 

so large a subtraction of marriageable persons, 
should be filled by an unusual spread of marriage 
among those who remain ; and the extent to 
which this took place has already been stated. 
But are there no serious reflections that should 
occur to us, when made acquainted with such 
facts ? Should we forget that [these facts 
demonstrate the attainment of] the highest state 
of progress and prosperity that a country can look 
to enjoy ? A multiplying population, with a 
constant void for it to fill ; a growing revenue, 
with lessened taxation ; accumulating capital, 
with rising profits and interest. This is a union 
of happy conditions which hardly any country 
before enjoyed, and which no country can long 
expect to enjoy} 

It is in such a period that a population becomes 
accustomed to early marriage, the easy acquire- 
ment of a livelihood, the habit of looking for a 
rise in the social scale, and the enjoyment of 
leisure and luxuries. Nothing can be more 
desirable than such a state of things as long as it 



' How soon the rate of progress would be interrupted, Jevons 
did not foresee. So far as it goes, the diminished rate of advance 
of the last quarter of the nineteenth century, though not necessarily 
the evidence of a continual diminution in the future rate of pro- 
gress, serves but to illustrate and enforce the warning that our 
present prosperity is not to be expected to endure indefinitely. 



232 THE COAL QUESTION ch. x 

is possible. It is the very happiness of civilisa- 
tion. But nothing is more grievous than the 
forcible change of such habits, and the disappoint- 
ment of the hopes they inspire. 

Now population, when it grows, moves with a 
certain uniform impetus, like a body in motion ; 
and uniform progress of population, as I have 
fully explained before, is multiplication in a uni- 
form ratio. But long-continued progress in such 
a manner is altogether impossible — it must out- 
strip all physical conditions and bounds ; and the 
longer it continues, the more severely must the 
ultimate check be felt. I do not hesitate to say, 
therefore, that the rapid growth of our great 
towns, gratifying as it is in the present, is a 
matter of very serious concern as regards the 
future. / do not say that the failure of our coal- 
mines ivill be the only possible check. Changes 
here, or in other parts of the world, may, even 
before the failure of our mines, reduce us to a 
stationary condition, and bring upon us at an 
earlier period the sufferings and dangers incident 
to our position. But such a grievous change, if 
it does not come before, must come when our 
mines have reached a certain depth. 



CHAPTER XI 

OF THE CHANGE AND PROGRESS OF OUR INDUSTRY 

Our rapid but one-sided progress may be shown 
not only in its effects upon the numbers of the 
population, but also in the kind and extent of 
our industry. 

In the second half of the eighteenth century 
our population, previously stationary, began to 
grow at a growing rate. When we consider that 
at this period the steam-engine was coming into 
use, that Arkwright's cotton machinery was 
invented, that the smelting of iron with coal was 
immensely increasing the abundance of that 
valuable metal, we cannot hesitate to connect 
these events as cause and effect. It was a period 
of commercial revolution. It was then we began 
that development of our inventions and our 
coal resources which is still going on. It was 



234 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

from 1770 to 1780, as Briavoinne thinks, that 
the commercial revolution took a determined 
character.^ 

The history of British industry and trade may 
be divided into two periods, the first reaching 
backward from about the middle of the eighteenth 
century to the earliest times, and the latter 
reaching forward to the present and the future. 
These two periods are contrary in character. 
In the earlier period Britain was a rude, half- 
cultivated country, abounding in corn, and wool, 
and meat, and timber, and exporting the rough 
but valuable materials of manufacture. Our 
people, though with no small share of poetic 
and philosophic genius, were unskilful and un- 
handy ; better in the arts of war than those 
of peace ; on the whole learners, rather than 
teachers. 

But as the second period grew upon us many 
things changed. Instead of learners we became 
teachers ; instead of exporters of raw materials 
we became importers ; instead of importers of 
manufactured articles we became exporters. 
What we had exported we began by degrees 

' M. N. Briavoinne, De ^Industrie en Belgiqtte, Bruxelles, 
1839, P- 197- 



XI PROGRESS OF OUR INDUSTRY 235 

to import ; and what we had imported we began 
to export. 

It is interesting to observe the reversal which 
then occurred in several of our ancient trades. 
Wool had been for a long time esteemed the 
staple produce of the country. We raised the 
raw material in plenty, but were so unskilful 
in its manufacture, that all the Acts of Parlia- 
ment that could be devised, all the arts and 
watchfulness of the revenue officer, could not 
prevent it being " run " for the manufacturers 
of France and Holland. No efforts of the legis- 
lature could enable us to compete with foreigners, 
and mistaken restrictions only contributed to keep 
the whole country stationary. But when once 
our manufacturing ingenuity took its natural 
rise, no more was heard of the " running of 
wool," and we have since become by far the first 
and largest woollen manufacturers, consuming 
not only our own raw wool, but as much as 
we can buy in Australia, New Zealand, South 
Africa, South America, and elsewhere. 

Again, we had, during the early part of the 
eighteenth century, imported quantities of fine 
cotton goods from India, and great was the 
indignation of Gee and other commercial writers 



236 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

at this "finger labour" being allowed to inter- 
fere with our home industry. No exclusion of 
such Indian cottons could have promoted the 
invention of cotton-spinning machinery, which 
is rather due to the general advance of our 
skill in mechanical construction. But it is 
curious to reflect upon the different state of 
things now, and the enormous quantities of 
cotton we [and other countries] not only draw 
from India but return to it in a manufactured 
state.^ 

Corn had been, next to wool, the most 
esteemed produce of the kingdom. When our 
population was not one-fifth of its present amount 
we were able to raise enough for our own use, 
with a margin over in plentiful years. This 
margin the Dutch and French merchants readily 
purchased from us and stored up, often selling 
it back to us again in periods of dearth. But as 
corn is not a material of manufacture, its export 
was regarded very favourably, as bringing trea- 
sure into the country, and the whole kingdom 
looked upon the system of bounties and pro- 
tective duties, established in 1670, as a piece of 
skilful political economy. But no sooner had 

' Of late years, Indian cotton has gone mainly to countries 
other than Britain. 



XI PROGRESS OF OUR INDUSTRY 237 

our population, about 1761 or 1771, begun to 
increase than our imports of wheat exceeded our 
exports, and the inward movement of corn was 
accelerated by the reduction of the protective 
duties to a nominal amount. Our dependence 
on foreign corn, however, increased so rapidly, 
and was so odious to the general feelings of the 
country, that a restrictive Act was readily passed 
in 1 79 1. This was the first of the series of Corn 
Laws which sixty years ago led to so severe a 
struggle. The effect of restriction is seen in 
the stationary amount of imports between 1791 
and 1830, the increased demands of the popu- 
lation being met by the enclosure of land, and 
the improvement of tillage. But the necessary 
result of pushing a very limited country like 
England to its greatest agricultural capabilities 
is a comparative rise of the price of food, com- 
pared with other articles, and compared with 
the food of other countries. Thus naturally 
arose the great Corn Law Question. These 
facts are apparent in the following table of the 
average exports and imports of wheat and 
wheat-meal, expressed in the equivalent amount 
of grain, during periods of ten years, in the 
last two centuries. 



238 



THE COAL QUESTION chap. 



1701-10 
1711-20 
1721-30 
1731-40 
1741-50 
1751-60 
1761-70 
1771-80 
1781-90 
1791-1800 

1801-10 
1811-20 
1821-30 
1831-40 
1841-50 
1851-60 
1861-70 
1871-80 
1881-90 
1891-1900 

1901-4 



Average Annual 

Exports of Wheat. 

Quarters 

. 107,116 . 

. 112,020 . 

115,779 • 

290,512 . 

378,452 

272,883 . 

203,365 . 

101,739 • 

110,197 . 

82,178 . 

37,738 . 

40,087 . 

79,510 

157,852 . 

66,285 • 

128,505 . 

189,842 . 

403,556 • 

288,223 . 

334,745 . 

306,018 . 



Average Annual 
Imports of Wheat. 
Quarters 

217 

4 

11,513 

1,307 

110 

16,229 

96,728 

130,423 
174,728 
568,896 

596,087 

540,111 

560,314 
1,077,370 
2,892,094 
5,031,266 

8,391,539 
13,277,250 
18,092,697 
22,464,357 
25,899,918 



The exports, it is seen, attained their highest 
amount about the middle of the eighteenth 
century, but were never large.^ Our imports 
are now increasing beyond all bounds, and even 
low prices do not stop the influx. ^ With the 

^ The exports of British and foreign wheat and wheat-meal during 
1871-80 exceeded those of any previous decade, largely on account 
of the exceptional movement of the year 1871, during the Franco- 
Prussian war. Between 1881 and i88g a change was made in the 
estimated yield of flour from wheat. 

^ The price of 40s. per quarter was named by Jevons here, a 
price obviously regarded, at the time he wrote, as excessively low. 
In 1864 the Gazette Average price of British wheat was 40J. id. 
Thirty years later it was 2is. lod., though it was not tiU 1884 that 



XI PROGRESS OF OUR INDUSTRY 239 

above we may contrast the average annual 
quantities of wheat sold in the several market 
towns of England and Wales, in the under- 
mentioned periods : — 

Quarters of Wheat 

1815-20 1,119,959 

1821-30 2,271,858 

1831-40 3,675,134 

1841-50 4,012,652 

1842-51 S.114,176 

1852-61 4,849,130 

The returns for the last two periods are given 
separately because they refer to a larger number 
of market towns than the previous returns. As 
the quantities sold do not include by any means 
the whole of what is grown or used, we cannot 
draw any accurate conclusions as to the amount 
of our subsistence ; but it clearly appears that 
our production of wheat has passed its highest 
point and is declining.^ 

it fell below the price of 1864. By 1904 it had reached 2Ss. 4^., a 
figure which, though above that of some recent years, is yet lower 
than that of any year before 1893. 

1 The changes in the number of towns from which returns of 
sales are obtained have made the record of market sales of even less 
use, as indicating the fluctuations in home supplies, than if the 
basis had been unchanged. Inasmuch as, for later years, official 
estimates of the British crop of wheat are available, no further 
reference to the recorded market sales of wheat need be made than 
that they have continued to testify, as far as their evidence has 
value, to the decline of the home production of wheat. The 
following table traces the progressive decline of the British wheat 
crop for half a rentury. For the first thirty years, the estimates of 



240 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

Such an extraordinary change in the source of 
subsistence of the country cannot but be accom- 
panied by many secondary changes. Human 
requirements are various, and arranged in a scale 
of subordination. A plentiful supply of corn, 
creating population, creates also a demand for 
animal food, for dairy produce, for vegetables and 
fruit, the home production of which is naturally 
protected by the cost of carriage. Few or no 
farmers or landowners, then, who would promptly 
submit to the necessary changes of culture, could 
suffer any loss from the influx of foreign corn. 

Lawes and G\Votr\.{ci. Journal of the Statistical Society, 1880, and 
the table in Broomhall's Corn Trade Year Book for 1897, p. 80) 
supply the data, and from 1884 onwards the crop estimates of the 
Board of Agriculture. 

Years. Average Crop. 

Sept. I to Aug. 31 Quarters of Wheat 

1852-3 to 1861-Z . . . 13,784,000 

1862-3 to 1871-2 . 13,884,000 

1872-3 to 1881-2 . 10,338,000 

1882-3 to 1891-2 . , 9,607,000 

1892-3 to 1901-2 . . 6,952,000 

Probable limits to the average crop in the first half of the 
century are indicated by the method employed by Porter {Progress 
of the Nation, ed. 1851, p. 143), who considers what addition to the 
supplies shown by records of foreign trade would be needed to 
afford an average consumption per inhabitant of six bushels, or of 
eight bushels. Between these limits the actual consumption prob- 
ably lay. We thus find — 

The home production needed to give a supply of — 





6 bushels 


per 


head. 


8 bushels per 


head. 


I 801-10 


8,226,000 


quarters 


11,169,000 


quarters 


I8II-20 


9,662,000 




M 


13,036,000 




„ 


1821-30 


11,064,000 




,, 


^4i 930)000 




,, 


1831-40 . . 


12,224,000 




,, 


16,628,000 




,, 


1841-49 . 


12,106,000 






17,004,000 




,, 



XI PROGRESS OF OUR INDUSTRY 241 

This view was urged, in 1845, previous to the 
repeal of the Corn Laws, in Mr. T. C. Banfield's 
very excellent Lectures on the Organisation of 
Labour : " The farmer and the landlord," he said,^ 
" are the parties most interested in the rejection 
of our present Corn Laws, which make wheat a 
profitable crop at the expense of every other. 
They ought to be clamorous for their repeal ; for 
no one can deny that cheapness of corn will 
increase the demand for every other article of 
agricultural produce." Similar views had been 
previously stated in a pamphlet by my father on 
the subject of the Corn Laws.^ And no anticipa- 
tions could have been more thoroughly fulfilled. 

In spite of the vast importations, and the very 
low price to which corn fell both in 1 850-1 
and 1862-5, we had few complaints of the 
farmers' or the landlords' ruin.^ Agriculturists 

1 Page 53. 

2 The Prosperity oj the Landholders not depenaent on the Corn 
Laws, by Thomas Jevons, 1840, pp. 7-1 1. 

^ For a dozen years after Jevons wrote this, it continued to be 
true. As already noted (p. 238) the price of wheat was maintained 
at a high level for an even longer term of years. The inflation of 
wheat prices from 1866 to 1874 would check the progress of 
adaptation to new methods to which Jevons refers on the following 
page. That adaptation has certainly not been pushed as far and 
as fast as Jevons hoped. We derive, as is well known, very large 
supplies of dairy produce from Denmark, where there have been 
effected just such changes in agricultural methods as are named in 
the text as likely to save the British farmer from ruin. 

R 



242 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

were either prosperous, or patient to an extent not 
to be looked for in human nature. But the fact 
is, that the substitution of new crops and kinds of 
cuhure had been going on very extensively, 
rendering the price of corn no longer the measure 
of the farmer's profit. 

Of course such changes must be expected to 
continue with the growth of our population and 
consumption, until only the richest of our valley 
lands bear wheat, while the rest of the kingdom 
is given up to grazing, or to sheep-walks, dairy- 
farms, and market-gardens. Under our present 
system of free-trade, the farmer will find his best 
advantage, not in clinging to old traditions and 
customs, but in trying to apprehend the tendencies 
of the time and select those new kinds of culture 
which will give the best money return. 

One extraordinary result of the current changes 
in our old industry was disclosed by the census 
of 1 86 1. // is a positive decrease of our agricul- 
tural 'bopulation} [a decrease which continued 

' See the able investigation by Frederick Purdy, Esq., of the 
Statistical Department of the Poor Law Board, On the Decrease 
of the Agricultural Population, 1851-61, British Association 
1863, p. 157; Journal of the Statistical Society, September, 1864 
p. 388. 

[The continued decrease in our agricultural population has been 
the subject of memoirs, too numerous to attempt to detail, pub- 
lished during the last twenty-five or thirty years.] 



XI PROGRESS OF OUR INDUSTRY 243 

to be manifested progressively at subsequent 
censuses]. 

PERSONS EMPLOYED IN AGRICULTURE i 

1851 1,904,687 

1861 . . . • 1,803,049 

1871 1,423,854 

i88i 1,199,827 

1891 1,099,572 

1901 988,340 

The decrease of agricultural population is partly 
due to the less labour required in grazing than in 
tillage. But the employment of horse, water, or 
steam power in many field operations, as well as 
in thrashing, chopping, churning, etc., has greatly 
contributed to the same result. The economy of 
labour in agriculture affords in this country little 
or no compensation to the labourer in the extension 
of employment, because the area of land is limited 
and already fully occupied. Labour saved is 
rendered superfluous. It is this that keeps agri- 
cultural wages so low ; and as steam-power is 
more and more used upon a farm, the number of 
labourers will continue to decrease. The only 
relief for the consequent poverty of the labourer, 
beyond a poor-house allowance, is migration into 
a manufacturing town or a prosperous colony. 

' British and Foreign Trade and Industry, Cd. 1761, 1903, 
P- 363- 

R 2 



244 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

In either case the emigrant contributes directly or 
indirectly to develop our new system of industry, 
and to render more complete the overbalancing 
of our ancient agricultural system. Such facts, 
having been disclosed by the census, are patent 
to all ; but we cannot too often have brought to 
our notice the profound changes they indicate in 
our social and industrial condition. 

When we turn from agriculture to our mechanical 
and newer arts, the contrast is indeed strong, both 
as regards the numbers employed and the amounts 
of their products. But the subject is a trite one % 
every newspaper, book, and parliamentary return 
is full of it : factories and works, crowded docks 
and laden waggons are the material proofs of our 
progress. 

[The remainder of the chapter, devoted to setting forth the 
remarkable rate of progress of manufacturing industry in England 
for a long period previous to the original publication of The Coal 
Question, has been left [without the changes of phraseology, aimed 
at making it applicable to the present time, which have been 
attempted in the earlier part. The constant repetition of phrases, 
burdening the text with the reiterated reminder that the argument 
as to the rate of progress was not intended to apply to the entire 
nineteenth century, seemed less desirable than requesting the 
reader to bear in mind that the references in the text to the 
present apply to about 1865, not to 1905, in these few pages. The 
check in the rate of progress, which occurred in less than twenty 
years after the publication of Jevons' argument, is indicated in 
footnotes extending his tables to the present time.] 



XI PROGRESS OF OUR INDUSTRY 245 

I shall, therefore, give my attention to the rate 
of our progress, and show that our trade and 
manufactures are being developed without apparetit 
bounds in a geometric, not an arithmetic series — by 
multiplication, not by mere addition — and by 
multiplication always in a high and often in a 
continuously rising ratio. 

Next after coal, the production of which we 
shall consider in the next chapter, iron is the 
material basis of our power. It is the bone and 
sinews of our labouring system. Political writers 
have correctly treated the invention of the coal- 
blast furnace as that which has most contributed 
to our material wealth. Without it the steam- 
engine, the spinning-jenny, the power-loom, the 
gas and water-pipe, the iron vessel, the bridge, the 
railway — in fact, each one of our most important 
works — would be impracticable from the want and 
cost of material. The production of iron, the 
material of all our machinery, is the best measure 
of our wealth and power ; and the following state- 
ment shows that, from the time when the charcoal 
bloomary and forge gave place to the coke blast- 
furnace, the production of iron in England has 
advanced at a rate alike extraordinary in rapidity 
and constancy : — 



246 



THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

PRODUCTION OF PIG IRON 



Year 


Pig i.o„ produced Average increase 

Tons J Tons 

i 


Average annual 

rate of increase 

per cent 


Rate as for 
ten years 


1740 
1788 
1796 
1806 
1825 
1839 
1847 
1854 
1864 


17,350 

68,300 

125,079 

258,206 

581,367 

1,243,680 

1,999,608 

3,069,838 1 

4,767,951' 


10,620 

70,980 

133,130 

170,084 

473,081 

944,910 

1,528,900 

1,698,113 


3 

8 
7 
4 
6 
6 
6 
5 


33 

"3 
107 

S3 
72 
81 
84 

55 



' Mineral Statistics. The amounts for previous years are 
estimates collected from several well-known works. They are set 
forth in Scrivener's work on the Iron Trade. (Cf. Midland Mining 
Commission., First Report., p. xvi ; Report of Coal Commission, 
1 87 1, Committee E, p. 60; Commission on Depression of Trade, 
Memorandum by Sir Lowthian Bell, Second Report, part i, 
p. 320. The writer last-named states that the earlier figures are 
based on calculations relating to furnaces built, no allowance 
being made for those out of blast.) The production in later years 
has been as follows : — 



Year 


Pig-iron produced 
Tons 


Average increase 
in ten years 

Tons 


Average annual 

rate of increase 

per cent 


Rate as for 
ten years 


1854 
i860 
1870 
1880 
1890 
1900 


3.069,838 
3,826,750 
5,963,510 

7,749.230 
7,904,214 

8,959.691 


1,261,520 
2,136,760 
1,785,720 
154,984 
1,055,477 


4 
S 
3 


I 


44 

56 

30 

2 

13 



There has been, as the table shows, no restoration of the higher 
rates of increase, though some advance in the annual addition to 
output was the result of the spurt of trade about 1870. 



XI PROGRESS OF OUR INDUSTRY 247 

It is evident that an arithmetical law of increase 
is totally inapplicable to the above numbers, since 
the yearly addition increases continuously from 
little more than 1,000 tons to 170,000 tons, the 
recent yearly addition. The ratio of increase, on 
the contrary, has only varied from 3 to 8 per cent, 
per annum. In the last period, indeed, 1854-64,, 
we observe a fall in the rate, probably tem- 
porary, and due to the partial loss of the American 
trade, in consequence of the enactment of the 
Morrill tariff. 

The same temporary check to the iron trade is 
more apparent in the following account: — 

EXPORT OF PIG IRONi 



Year 


Tons of pig iron 
exported 


Increase 


Rate per cent of 

increase as for 

ten years 


1 801 


1,583 






1812 


4,066 


2,483 


136 


182I 


4,484 


418 


12 


1831 


12,444 


7,960 


177 


184I 


85,866 


73,422 


590 


185I 


201,264 


115,398 


134 


1861 


388,004 


186,740 


93 



Our export iron trade commenced but little 
previous to the beginning of the nineteenth 

» The exports of pig and puddled iron, of British manufacture, 
in later years, were : — 



248 



THE COAL QUESTION chap. 



century, so that a generation hardly yet passed 
away saw its rise. Within a period of sixty years 
the trade, as regards crude iron only, has been 
multiplied 245-fold. It is in vain to prophesy 
how much it may yet in future years be further 
multiplied. Prodigious resources are now being 
applied to the extension of the iron manufacture, 
and the present activity of the trade leads us to 
suppose that any recent dulness will be amply 
compensated. A single company, that of the 
Ebbw Vale Iron Works, managed by Mr. Abraham 
Darby, a descendant of the founder of our iron 
manufacture, holds 16,306 acres of land, employs 
more than 15,000 labourers, representing a popu- 
lation of 50,000 persons, produces 130,000 tons 
of pig iron annually, with a cat>ability of producing 



Year 


Tons of pig iron 
exported 


Increase or 
decrease 


Rate per cent of 
increase or de- 
crease in ten years 


1871 
1881 
1891 
1901 


1,057.458 

1,482,354 

840,055 

839,182 


669,454 

424,896 

—642,299 

-873 


172 

40 

—43 





The sign ( — ) indicates decrease . 

The renewed progress of the iron trade shortly after the date of 
Jevons' latest figures is here more clearly shown. The falling off 
in the export of the cruder forms of iron has been a natural 
accompaniment of the development of the higher branches of the 
industry. 



XI PROGRESS OF OUR INDUSTRY 249 

180,000 tons, or ten times as much as the whole 
produce of the country in 1740.^ But we must 
almost tremble when we hear that this single com- 
pany raises 850,000 tons of coal annually, and 
with a comparatively small outlay are prepared to 
increase the yield to a million and a half of tons ! 
Expanding as it does, the iron manufacture must 
soon burn out the vitals of the country, and it is 
possible that there are those now living who will 
see the end of the export of crude iron ; so rapid 
is the development of the trade that its rise and 
decline may perhaps be compassed by two life- 
times. 

The consumption of timber, as Mr. Porter 
remarked,^ exhibits forcibly the comparative pro- 
gress of industry. The following table exhibits 
the quantities of timber, "eight inches square 
and upwards," of colonial and foreign growth, 
consumed in the United Kingdom in the years 
1 801 to 1 84 1, and the total cubic contents of 



1 There is no need to detail the larger figures of production of 
iron and steel, and of consumption of coal, of the great firms, and 
consolidations of firms, of the beginning of the twentieth century. 
The point — of the drain on coal resources which is consequent on 
the development of the iron trade — is sufficiently illustrated by the 
figures of forty years ago (cf. also chap. xv). The figures of the 
preceding table go far to bear out the anticipation of a cessation of 
crude iron export. 

- Progress of the Nation i8si,p. 578. 



250 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

all timber imported in the years 1843, 1851, and 
1861 :— 

Year Quantity of Timber Rate of increase per 

Loads cent in ten years 

180I 161,869 

181 1 . . 279,048 72 

1821 . 416,765 ■ • • 49 

183I 546,078 31 

184I 745.158 ... .36 

Year Total Imports Rate of increase per cent 

Loads as for ten years 

1843 1,317,645 

1851 2,111,777 80 

1861 3,039,503 44 

The extraordinary increase between 1843 ^"*^ 
1 85 1 is due to the partial repeal of the timber 
duties in 1847 and 1848. The more recent rate 
of 44 per cent is but little below the average 
rate (50 per cent) obtaining since the beginning 
of the century.^ 

The amount of cotton consumed is a measure 
of one of the largest branches of our manufactur- 
ing system. Excluding from view the extra- 
ordinary disturbance in that trade during the 

1 Since 1861 the course of the import timber trade has been as 
follows : — 

Total imports Rate of increase per 



Year 


Loads 


cent in ten years 


1871 . 


/4.35S,7i9l* 


■ 43 


1881 . 


5,664,061 


23 


1891 


6.7S9.739 


19 


1901 


. ■ 9.193.934 


21 



■* In 1871 timber, sawn, split, etc., unenumerated, was returned for the first time by 
quantity as well as by value in the trade accounts. The second figure, for comparison 
with later dates, includes this new item. Furniture, hardwood and veneers, and house 
frames, fittings, and joiners' work are not included in any of the figures given above. 



XI PROGRESS OF OUR INDUSTRY 251 

American Civil War, the following numbers 
exhibit Its rate of progress : — 

IMPORTS OF COTTON > 



Year 


Quantity of Cot- 
ton imported 


Increase in ten 
years 


Rate of increase 
per cent as for 




Pounds 


Pounds 


ten years 


1785 


17,992,882 






1790 


31,447,605 


26,909,446 


206 


1 801 


54,203,433 


20,687,116 


64 


181I 


90,309,668 


36,106,235 


67 


182I 


137,401,549 


47,091,881 


52 


183I 


273,249,653 


135,848,104 


99 


184I 


437,093,631 


163,843,978 


60 


1851 


757,379,749 


320,276,118 


73 


i860 


1,390,938,752 


633,559,003 


96 



' The imports represented sufficiently well the consumption of 
cotton up to the early forties. That ceased to be the case 
subsequently. The following table exhibits the consumption of 
cotton in the United Kingdom, according to the well-known 
estimates of Mr. Ellison. Instead of single years, the averages of 
three consecutive years at decennial intervals are compared. 



Middle year 0. 
triennium 


Consumption of 

cotton. 

Millions of pounds 


Increase in ten 

years. 

Millions of pounds 


Rate of increase 

per cent 

in ten years 


i8zo 


1I2'9 






1830 


243-2 


i3o'3 


"5 


1840 


426"2 


183*0 


75 


1850 


6257 


I99'5 


47 


i860 


I,022"5 


396-8 


63 


1870 


r,°73'5 


51-0 


5 


1B80 


1,328-4 


254'9 


24 


1890 


i,6i5'8 


290-4 


22 


I goo 


i.674'9 


56-1 


4 



252 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

No single branch of production can give an 
adequate measure of the general growth, because 
our manufactures not only expand in the case of 
each article, but also branch out into new kinds of 
work ever becoming more diverse and elaborate. 
Let us consider the attempts that have been 
made to estimate the general aggregate of our 
exchanges. 

For a century and a half the amounts of our 
imports and exports were expressed according to 
a tariff of invariable prices fixed in 1694. The 
official values thus obtained have no claim what- 
ever to be considered the real values of the com- 
modities imported or exported, and only furnish 
a convenient criterion of the increase and de- 
crease of the aggregate quantity of goods. The 
official account of the value of imports from 
the beginning of the eighteenth century is as 
follows : — ^ 



1 First Report of the Commissioners oj Customs, 1857, p. 108 
(and Porter's Tables for the later years). See the diagram fronting 
the title-page, m which the divergent character of our progress is 
shown to the eye by curves representing the numbers of the popu- 
lation, the official value of our imports, and the vend of coal from 
Newcastle. [The computation of the official value of imports 
continued to be made to the year 1869. The figures for 1861-69 
show an average official value of imports ;^i89,678,967, the increase 
on the period 1851-60 being at the rate of 49 per cent, in ten 
years.] 



XI PROGRESS OF OUR INDUSTRY 253 

TOTAL VALUE OF IMPORTS 



Period of 
Years 


Average official value 
of imports 


Increase 


Rate of increase 

per cent in ten 

years 


I7OI-IO 


4,267,464 


I 




1711-20 


5,318,450 


1,050,986 


25 


1721-30 


6,621,725 


1,303,275 


25 


1731-40 


6,992,010 


370,285 


6 


1741-50 


6,784,409 


—207,601 1 


-3' 


1751-60 


7,826,441 


1,042,032 


IS 


1761-70 


10,025,235 


2,198,794 


28 


1771-80 


10,684,426 


659,191 


7 


1781-90 


I3>543,4i8 


2,858,992 


27 


I79I-180O 


20,660,760 


7,117,342 


53 


180I-IO 


28,809,7782 


8,149.018 


39 


181I-20 


30,864,670 


2,054,892 


7 


1821-30 


39,661,123 


8,796,453 


29 


1831-40 


53,487,465 


13,826,342 


35 


1841-50 


79,192,806 


25,705,341 


48 


1851-60 


130,134,946 


50,942,140 


64 



Low rates of progress varied by retrogression 
prevailed throughout the greater part of the eigh- 
teenth century. Before its termination occurred a 
great burst of trade, only brought temporarily to 
a stand by the great Continental wars. Starting 
from the Peace we observe a continuoits accelera- 
tion in the rate of multiplication of our aggregate 

^ Decrease. 

2 M'Culloch's Account of the British Empire ; Darton's Tables, 
p. 30. 



254 



THE COAL QUESTION chap. 



imports, the most recent rate being the highest 
known. 

In the year 1855 the system of official values 
was abandoned in favour of real values. These 
values are computed in the Statistical Depart- 
ment of the Board of Trade from the actual 
prices of the commodities as given in mercantile 
price lists, or furnished by the principal mercantile 
firms. But the increase of our imports from 1854 
to 1864, as measured by their real ascertained 
values, is even more surprising.'^ 



Year. 


Real value of imports. 


Increase. 


Rate per cent of 
increase in 
ten years. 


1854 


■ ■ 152,389,853 • 






1864 


274,952,172 . 


122,562,319 . 


... 80 



We have accounts of the declared real value 
of exports from about the commencement of the 
nineteenth century. 

^ Following the same plan as with the official values of imports 
we obtain the following series of figures of real values. It may be 
noted that, from 1870, the system of computed values was in its 
turn abandoned for that of declared values. 



Period of Years 


Average value of 
imports 


Increase In ten 
years 


Rate of increase per 
cent in ten years 


1854-60 


172,945.365 


£ 




1861-70 


270,203,020 


119.393,635 * 


69* 


1871-80 


371.358,532 


101,155,512 


37 


1881-90 


394,597,657 


23,239.125 


6 


I 891-1900 


446,045,110 


51,447.453 


13 


1901-05 


541.859,958 


132,126,017 * 


30" 



* As for ten years. 



XI PROGRESS OF OUR INDUSTRY 255 



TOTAL VALUE OF EXPORTS i 
(British and Irish Produce) 



Per.od of 
Years 


Average annual de- 
clared value of 
exports 


Increase in ten years 


Rate of increase 

per cent in ten 

years 


i8oi-io 

l8lI-20 
1821-30 
1831-40 
1841-50 
1851-60 


40,737,970 
41,484,461 
36,600,536 
45,144,407 
57,381,293 
106,513,673 


746,491 
-4,883,925 * 

8,543,871 
12,236,886 
49,132,380 


2 
— 12* 

23 
27 

86' 



Decrease. 



After i860 the amount of our exports was 
greatly influenced by the revolution in the cotton 
trade, but a great expansion quickly followed the 
shrinkage due to the interruption in the supply 
of that important staple. 

The stationary or retrograde condition of our 
exports, as expressed by the real value, in the 
earlier part of this century, has been attributed 

' The later figures of Exports of British and Irish Produce are : — 



Period of years 


Average annual 

declared value of 

exports 


Increase in ten 
years 


Rate of increase 

per cent 

in ten years 


1861-70 

1871-S0 

i88i-go 

1891-1900 

iqoi-05 


166,107,975 
220,448,558 
234.306,947 
238,046,951 
29I) 158,333*' 


£ 
59,594,302 

54,340,583 

13,858,389 

3,740,004 

73,331,192! 


56 
33 

6 

2 
31 1 



* Exclusive of value of new ships, first returned in 1899. 
t As for ten years. 



256 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

to the restrictive influence of the Corn Laws. 
But the official values, and other statements of 
quantities of commodities examined in previous 
pages, negative this notion. It was due rather 
to the great fall of prices which was proceeding 
from about the year 18 10 until about 1851. 
Allowing for the change of prices it may be said,, 
I believe, that the progress of our trade was slow 
during the great wars, rapid and constant from 
the Peace to the accomplishment of Free Trade, 
and greatly accelerated since that event. 

The rise of our commerce is strikingly seen in 
the continuous growth of the port of Liverpool, 
which soon will be the greatest of all emporiums 
of trade. The dock accounts extend over a cen- 
tury, giving the number and, since 1800, the 
tonnage of vessels charged with dock-dues. 

The numbers in the table opposite are not so 
regular as those we might get by taking decennial 
averages, and yet the rate of multiplication of 
Liverpool as a port has only varied in a century 
from 20 to 89 per cent.^ 

Accounts of the shipping of the whole king- 
dom are available from the beginning of the 
nineteenth century. From them we get the 

' The following table, prepared from the Accounts of the Mersey 
Docks and Harbour Board for the vear ending ist July, 1905, 



XI PROGRESS OF OUR INDUSTRY 257 

PORT OF LIVERPOOL 



Year 


Number of 
ships 


Tonnage of 
ships 


Rate of increase 
per cent in 
ten years 


I761 


1,319 






1771 


2,087 




58 of ships. 


I781 


2,512 




20 


I79I 


4,045 


... 


61 „ 


180I 


5,060 


459,719 


25 


181I 


S,6i6 


6ii,igo 


33 of tonnage. 


182I 


7,810 


839,848 


37 


183I 


12,537 


1,592,436 


89 „ 


1 841 


16,108 


2,425,461 


52 


1851 


21,071 


3,737,666 


54 


i86i 


21,095 


4,977,272 


33 



extraordinary results shown on the following 
page. 

Multiplication at a growing rate ! So far is 
our shipping industry from increasing in an 

pp. 25-27, shows the progress of Liverpool shipping by decennial 
intervals during the nineteenth century. 



Period of 
Years 


Average 
annual 
tonnage 


Rate of in- 
crease per cent 
in ten years 


Period of 
Years 


Average 
annual 
tonnage 


Rate of in- 
crease per cent 
in ten years 


1801-10 
1811-20 
1821-30 
1831-40 
1841-S0 
1851-60 


539.314 

671,892 

1,171,297 

1,872,136 

2.985.373 
4,237.003 


25 

74 
60 

59 
43 


1861-70 

1871-80 

1881-go 

1891-1900 

1901-05 


5,154,809 
6.793. 036 
8,702,984 
10,919,808 
14.423.445 


20 
33 
28 
25 
45* 


* Rate as for ten years 



258 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

TONNAGE OF BRITISH PORTS' 



Period 
of years 


Average annual ton- 
nage of ships entering 
and clearing 


Increase 


Rate per cent of 

increase in ten 

years 


180I-IQ 
181 1-20 
1821-30 
1831-40 
1841-50 
1851-60 


Tons 
3,467,157 
4,203,613 
5,059,522 
7,175,081 
11,704,796 
20,233,049 


Tons 

736,456 
855,909 

2,115,559 
4,529,715 
8,528,253 


21 
20 

42 
63 
73 



arithmetical series only, that even a geometrical 
series does not adequately express its rapid 
expansion. The very rate of multiplication 
progresses. 

But it is the expansion of our ocean steam 
marine which most fitly represents our mechanical 

1 The figures for later dates are : — 



Period of years 


Average annual 

tonnage of ships 

entering and 

clearing 


Increase 


Rate per cent of 
increase in ten years 


1861-70 
1871-80 
1881-90 
i8gi-igoo 


Tons 

30,S22,t32 

48,555,725 
65.565,248 
84,931.999 


Tons 
10,289,083 

18,033,593 

17,009,523 

19.366,751 


51 
59 
35 
30 



These figures of tonnage do not include the coasting trade. The 
yearly figures show some recovery in the rate of progress at the 
latest dates. 



XI PROGRESS OF OUR INDUSTRY 



259 



resources, our commercial requirements, and our 
maritime supremacy. The following are the 
amounts of tonnage of steam-vessels belonging 
to the United Kingdom, beginning with the 
decennial period following the introduction of 
steamboats in 18 14: — 



BRITISH STEAM VESSELS i 



Year 


Tonnage 


Increase of 
tonnage 


Rate of increase 

per cent in ten 

years 


182I 
183I 
184I 
185I 
1861 


10,534 

37,445 

95,687 

186,687 

506,308 


26,911 

58,242 

91,000 

319,621 


256 
156 

95 
171 



If we pass over the early period when steam- 
vessels were quite a novelty, we find that their 
increase, always extraordinary, has been more 
rapid even proportionally speaking in the ten 
years ending in 1861 than in twenty previous 

1 The figures for later dates are : — 



Year 


Tonnage 


Increase of tonnage 


Rate of increase per 
cent in ten years 


1871 

■ i88i 

1891 

igoi 


1,319,612 
3,003,988 
5,307,204 
7.617.793 


813,304 
1.684,376 
2,303,216 
2,310,589 


161 
128 
77 
44 



S 2 



26o THE COAL QUESTION ch. xi 

years. And the extreme success and prosperity 
of the iron ship-building trade at the present 
time is the sure indication of the future ex- 
tension of steam navigation. 

When we consider that the system of ocean 
steam communication is very largely in our hands 
and supported upon our coal, our pride at its 
possession must be mingled with anxiety at the 
enormous drain it directly and indirectly creates 
upon our coal-mines. 



CHAPTER XII 

OF OUR CONSUMPTION OF COAL 

In the last three chapters I have tried to make 
apparent, both from principle and fact, that a 
nation tends to develop itself by multiplication 
rather than addition — in a geometrical rather 
than an arithmetical series. And though such 
continuous multiplication is seldom long possible, 
owing to the material limits of subsistence, I have 
given sufficient numbers to prove that up to the 
present time (1865) our growth is unchecked by 
any such limits, and is proceeding at uniform or 
rising rates of multiplication. 

Now while the iron, cotton, mercantile, and 
other chief branches of our industry thus pro- 
gress, it is obvious that our consumption of coal 
must similarly progress in a geometrical series. 
This, however, is matter of inference only be- 



262 



THE COAL QUESTION 



CHAP. 



cause until lately the total quantities of coal con- 
sumed were quite unknown. 

We can trace the progress of the consumption 
of coal in previous centuries with some accuracy 
by means of the accounts of the Newcastle and 
London Coal Trade, which used to be, far more 
even than it now is, the largest branch of the 
trade. The total quantities of coal shipped from 
Newcastle and the neighbouring ports were as 
follows ; ^ — 

VEND OF COAL FROM NEWCASTLE 



Year 


Vend from the 
Newcastle Coal- 
field 


Increase as for fifty 
years 


Rate of'increase 

per cent as for 

fifty years 


1609 
1660 
1700 
1750 
1800 
1864 


Tons 
251,764 

537,000 

650,000 

1,193,467 

2,520,075 

18,349,867^ 


Tons 

279,643 
141,250 

543,467 

1,326,608 

12,367,025 


no 

27 

84 

III 

372 



The progressive consumption of London for 
two centuries is seen in the following figures : — 



1 T. J. Taylor, Archceology of the Coal Trade, pp. 177 and 204, in 
Memoirs of the British Archceological Association, 1858. See also 
the diagram facing p. vii. (Plate I). 

2 Including 7,562,963 tons of railway-borne coal. 



XII OF OUR CONSUMPTION OF COAL 263 

COAL IMPORTED INTO LONDON i 



Year 


Total quantity of 

coal imported into 

London 


Increase in fifty years, 
or as for fifty years 


Rate per cent of 
increase 

as for fifty years 


1650 
1700 
1750 
1800 
1850 

1865 


Tons 
216,000 

428,100 

688,700 

1,099,000 

3,638,883 

5,909,940 


Tons 

212,100 

260,600 

410,300 

2,539,883 

7,570,190 


98 

61 

60 

231 

404 



We see that it is almost impossible to compare 
the last with previous centuries, and that the rate 
of multiplication is in recent years many times as 
great as during preceding centuries, and is rapidly 

1 The progress of the London coal trade to the end of the 
nineteenth century is shown in the following table, which also 
shows the steps of progress in slightly greater detail than the table 
in the text. 



Year 


Total quantity of 
coal imported 
into London 


Increase in 
twenty-five years 


Rate per cent of 

increase in 
twenty-five years 


177s 


Tons 
857,802 


Tons 
169,102 


=5 


1800 


1,281,823 


424,021 


49 


182s 


1,921,091 


639,268 


50 


1850 


3.638,883 


1,717.792 


89 


1S7S 


8,214,357 


4.575,474 


126 


1900 


15,746,003 


7.S31.646 


92 



The figure for 1 800 used here differs from that in the text. It is 
quoted by Committee E of the Coal Commission of 1871 {Report, 
p. 24) from the Epitome of the Progress of the Trade in Coal to 
London, by J. R. Scott. 



264 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

advancing up to the latest returns} The simple 
numerical increase is now almost indefinitely- 
greater than it used to be. 

As to the total quantity of coal consumed in 
the whole kingdom the most erroneous notions 
were entertained even in 1854. Writers on 
Statistics and the Coal Trade made what they 
called Estimates, by adding together the sea- 
borne, and a few other known quantities of coal, 
and then making a liberal allowance ad libitum 
for the rest. 

The variations in the estimates made by 
different authors may be judged from the follow- 
ing statement : ^ — 

Tons. 

'^. CT^yXax, Statistics of Coal, \%Si%^ . . . 3i,Soo,cxx3 

Braithwaite Poole, Statistics of British Com- 
merce, 1852 34,000,000 

J. R. McCuUoch, 1854* 38,400,000 

T. Y. Hall, A Treatise on the Extent and 
probable Duration of the Northern Coal- 
field, 1854 56,550,000 

The same, quoting " a particularly careful 
writer on the subject of the Coal Trade " . 52,000,000 

Joseph Dickinson, Inspector of Coal Mines, 

in his Report, 1853 54,000,000 

^ The increase in the half-century following 1850 being 333 per 
cent, the substitution of the figures of 1900 for those of 1865 in the 
table would not contradict the statement of the text. 

2 Mineral Statistics for 1855, Introd., p. vi. 

^ The estimate is for "about 1845-6" {loc. cit. p. xvii). 

* Statistical Account, vol. i, p. 599. This later estimate is 
substituted for the one given in the Mineral Statistics. 



XII OF OUR CONSUMPTION OF COAL 265 

In 1854 was begun the system of Mining 
Records^ and Statistical Inquiry, recommended 
by Mr. Sopwith with reference to our present 
subject, and carried into practice by Mr. Robert 
Hunt, with the assistance of the Government 
Inspectors of Coal Mines, and the voluntary 
co-operation of the Carrying and Mining Com- 
panies. The following are the amounts of coal 
ascertained to have been raised from our coal- 



mines : — ^ 




Year. 


Tons. 


1854 . 


. . . . 64,661,401 


i8ss . . . 


61,453,079 


1856 . . 


..... 66,645,450 


1857 


65,394,707 


1858 . 


• ■ ■ 65,008,649 


1859 • 


• • • 71,979,765 


i860 . . 


. . 80,042,698 


1861 


■ 83,635,214 


1862 


. . 81,638,338 


1863 ... . 


■ • ■ 86,292,215 




Total 726,751,516 



Since the first edition of this work was pub- 
lished it has been found that the returns from 
South Staffordshire were under-estimated, owing 
to a misapprehension of the size of the Stafford- 
shire ton and boat-load. 

1 Proposed long ago by Mr. Chapman. See Holmes, Treatise on 
the Coal Mines of Durham and Northumberland, London, 1816, 
p. 218. 

2 Statistical Abstract for the United Kingdom, 1864, p. 91. 



266 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

The correct amounts of coal produced during 
the years 1861-1864 are as follows : — 

Year. Tons. 

1861 . . ... 85,635,214 

1862 83,638,338 

1863 . . . 88,292,515 

1864 . . . .... 92,787,873 

By adopting the new numbers I might slightly 
strengthen my conclusions, but I do not think it 
worth while to make the necessary alterations.^ 

The quantity of small coals consumed upon 
the colliery waste-heaps is not included in the 
above, and is unknown. Mr. Atkinson, inspector 
of the coal-mines of Durham, south of the Wear, 
estimated the waste in his district in i860 at 
2,404,215 tons; but Mr. Dunn, inspector for 
Cumberland, Northumberland, and the rest of 
Durham, considered the waste in his district to 
be only 834,117 tons.^ The discrepancy of these 
estimates is so great and obvious that there 
appeared in the Mineral Statistics for 1862 ^ the 
following note : — " The amount of coals burnt 
or wasted at pits has been so differently repre- 
sented, and appears such an uncertain although 
very large quantity, that it is for the present 

' For a consideration of the production in later years, see note at 
end of chapter. 

^ Mineral Statistics ^or i860, p. 99. ^ P. 68. 



XII OF OUR CONSUMPTION OF COAL 267 

omitted." We may conjecture it to be at least 
five millions of tons in the whole. But the 
uncertainty does not affect our subject much, 
because before long this deplorable waste of coal 
must come to a natural end. 

We see that without considering the waste the 
lowest of the amounts of coal consumed (1854- 
1863) exceeds, by eight millions of tons, the 
largest previous estimate of our consumption, 
that of Mr. T. Y. Hall, writing in 1854 ; while 
the estimates of Poole, McCulloch, and R. C. 
Taylor are hardly more than half the true amount. 
With such facts before us we cannot place much 
credit in previous estimates, but I give such as 
I have met with.^ 

Year. Tons. 

18 19. "R. C. Taylor, Statistics of Coal 13,000,000 

1829. Mr. Hugh Taylor, evidence before Committee 

of House of Lords 15,580,000 

1833. ].M&rshz\\, Digest of Pari. Accounts, -p. 12,7 . 17,000,000 

1840. ]. 'R. McCyiWoda., Dictionary of Commerce . . 30,000,000 

1845. Ditto Ditto . 34,600,000 

I much prefer to reject all such estimates, and 
argue only upon the undoubted returns of the 
Mining Record Office, given on p. 265. We of 

1 The following additional estimates, quoted by Mr. Mundella 
in a paper read before the Statistical Society in 1878 {oi. fournal, 
p. 109), further illustrate the variety and confusion of early 
estimates. Figures for the eighteenth century, quoted by Mr. 



268 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

course regard, not the average annual arithmetic 
increase of coal consumption between 1854 and 
1863, which is 2,403,424 tons, but the average 
ratio or rate per cent of increase, which is found 
by logarithmic calculation to be 3 "2 6 per cent. 
That is to say, the consumption of each year, 
one with another, exceeded that of the previous 
year as 103 "26 exceeds 100. 

We cannot help perceiving, however, that the 
consumption of coal is variable, and dependent 
upon the fluctuating activity of trade. The year 
1854 presents a maximum ; for the consumption 
falls off next year from 6\\ millions to ^\\, and 
suffers no great increase until 1859. There is 
then a very rapid rise up to a second maximum 
in 1 86 1. We are uncertain when the consump- 
tion will again reach a maximum, and under 
these circumstances it is better to compare the 

Mundella, appear to be merely four times the vend from Newcastle 
in the corresponding years. 

Year. Tons. 

1803. Mr. Buddie's evidence before House of Lords . 10,808,046 

1816. Statistics and calculations of Samuel Salt . . 27,020,115 

,, Report of deputation from the Wear ... . . . 15,634,729 

1829. Mr. Hugh Taylor (apparently with addition of exports) ^ 

foreign and correction of exports to Ireland) . / ' 

1839. J. R. McCuUoch . . . 31,024,417 

Henry T. de la Beche ... . 36,000,000 

1846. J. Emerson Tennant . 36,400,000 

To which may be added — 

1855. J. R. McCuUoch . . .... 58,200,000 

Most of these estimates are referred to in the report of Committee 
E of the 1871 Coal Commission {Report, pp. 46, 61, 62). 



XII OF OUR CONSUMPTION OF COAL 269 

consumption of the two years of maxima, 1854 
and 1 86 1, assuming that they are years of a 
certain correspondent activity. The average rate 
of increase in the interval is 37 per cent, and 
the comparison of the years 1854 and 1864 would 
give almost exactly the same result ; but in our 
succeeding calculations I will assume that the 
average annual rate of growth of our coal con- 
sumption is 2)hper cent — or the ratio of growth is 
that of 103-5 ^^ loo- 

This is equivalent to a growth in ten years of 
41 per cent, or in fifty years of 458 per cent, or 
51-fold. 

Such are the critical numbers of our inquiry. 

If we assume the consumption of coal to have 
grown to its present (1863) amount, at the 
uniform rate of 3^^ per cent, and calculate its 
former probable amounts backwards, we find no 
accordance with former estimates, of the error of 
which we were already well assured (p. 267). 



Year. 


Estimated amount. 


Calculated amount 


1819 . . 


. 13,000,000 . 


• • 18,993,000 


1829 . . 


. 15,580,000 . 


. . 26,792,000 


1833 . . 


. 17,000,000 


. . 30,744,000 


1840 . . 


. 30,000,000 . 


39,115,000 


1845 • ■ 


. 34,600,000 


. 46,456,000 



But it is worthy of notice that Mr. Hull, when 
briefly reviewing the consumption of coal, con- 



270 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

jectured the true amount probably not to exceed 
ID million tons at the beginning of the century, 
and to be about 36 million tons in 1840.^ Now 
these estimates agree well with the amounts we 
should arrive at from our assumed rate of growth. 

Year. Hull's conjecture. Calculated amount. 

180I .... 10,000,000 .... 10,225,000 
1840 .... 36,000,000 .... 39,115,000 

The following are the calculated probable 
amounts of coal used at decennial intervals as 
far back as it is safe to assume that the present 
high rate of progress existed ; that is, to the time 
of the introduction of Watt's engine, the pit- 
coal iron furnace, and the cotton factory : — 

Probable consumption. 
Year. Tons. 

1781 5,139,000 

I79I 7,249,000 

180I 10,225,000 

181I . . 14,424,000 

182 1 . 20,346,000 

183I ... . . . 28,700,000 

184I . 40,484,000 

1851 57,107,000 

If we take the consumption of 1852 and 1853 
as the same as that of 1851, and the consumption 
in each period of ten years as uniformly the same 

' The Coal Fields of Great Britain, 2nd ed., pp. 28, 236. The 
estimate quoted by Mr. Mundella and the Committee of the 1871 
Commission as that of de la Beche is apparently the same as that 
here assigned by Jevons to Mr. Hull. It is quoted by the Com- 
mission from the Report on the Geology of Cornwall, Devon and 
West Somerset, 1839. 



XII OF OUR CONSUMPTION OF COAL 271 

as that of the first year, we easily get the fol- 
lowing :^ — 

Tons of coal. 

Probable consumption, 1781-1853 .... 1,436,991,000 
Actual consumption, 1854-1863 . . . 726,751,516 

Total consumption, 1781-1863 . . 2,163,742,516 

We cannot but be struck by the fact that the 
consumption of the last ten years is half as great 
as that of the previous seventy-two years ! But 
we gain little notion from the above of the total 
quantity of coal already burnt or wasted in these 

' The estimate of Committee E of the 1871 Commission was 
that the average annual production of coal during the first half of 
the nineteenth century was 40 millions of tons, and the aggregate 
of coal extracted in the half-century, 2,000 million tons {Report, 
p. 61). They gave, as the production of 1800, 10,080,300 tons, 
thus substantially agreeing with the figure arrived at by Jevons. 
They estimated that, from 1660 to 1800, the production was 700 
million tons, and, between 1500 and 1660, not less than an average 
of one million tons yearly, thus obtaining an estimate of output, for 
three centuries preceding 1800, of 850,000,000 tons {Report, p. 
32). The aggregate production of 1854-69 was 1,343,723,705 tons 
{Report, p. 66). 

The recent Commission's report shows the aggregate production 
of 1870-1904 to have been 5,927,340,291 tons {Final Report, 
part xi. p. 81). 

The average output of 1801-50, as computed by Jevons, was 
only about 22 million tons, as compared with the estimate of 40 
millions by the Commission. 

In order to arrive at an average of 40 millions, beginning with 
10 and ending with a figure which would lead up to the actual out- 
put returned for 1854, it would be necessary to assume, early in the 
century, a rate of increase in production much above 3J per cent 
per annum, followed by a slower rate as the middle of the century 
was approached. There seems no adequate reason for assuming 
that the most rapid increase occurred early in the century. 



272 



THE COAL QUESTION 



CHAP. 



islands. An incalculable waste of coal has been 
going on throughout the period reviewed, both 
as regards the slack burnt at the pit-mouth, and 
the many times greater quantity of small or large 
coal left behind in the pit by prodigal modes of 
mining, which coal cannot for the most part be 
recovered. And then previous to 1781 there had 
been a very considerable and more stationary 
consumption of coal, especially in Northum- 
berland, Staffordshire, and at Whitehaven, during 
four or five centuries. 

But let us now approach the main point of our 
inquiry, and follow the future probable con- 
sumption of coal. Assuming the present rate of 
growth, 2)i per cent per annum, to hold, it is 
easy to calculate the amounts of coal to be con- 
sumed in the undermentioned years, starting from 
the actual consumption of 1861 : ^ — 



In the year 

1861 . 


Consumption at the assumed 
rate of increase. 

. . 83'6 millions of tons. 


1871 . . . 


117-9 


ji 


?) 


1881 . . 


. 166-3 


„ 


J) 


1891 . . . 


234-7 


» 


» 


1901 . . . 


. . 331-0 


» 


JJ 


1911 


. . 466-9 


J) 


3? 


1921 . 


658-6 


)> 


J3 


1931 • • 


929-0 


)J 


5) 


1941 . 


i,3io'5 


» 


» 


1951 


1,848-6 


» 


JJ 


1961 . 


• 2,607-5 


)j 


J» 



1 These numbers are represented to the eye in the diagram 



XII OF OUR CONSUMPTION OF COAL 273 

The total aggregate consumption of the period of 
no years, 1861-1970, would be 102,704,000,000 
tons/ Or, if it be objected that 1861 was a year 
of maximum consumption, we may reduce the 
above sum in the proportion of 83 '6 millions to 
80 millions, the average consumption of the five 
years 1859-63. We thus get 98,281,000,000 
tons ; or, in round numbers, we may say, always 
hypothetically, — If our i consumption of coal con- 
tinue to multiply for 1 10 years at the same rate 
as hitherto, the total afhount of coal consumed in 
the interval will be one hundred thousand millions 
of tons. 

We now turn to compare this imaginary con- 
sumption of coal with Mr. Hull's estimate of the 
available coal in Britain, viz., eighty-three thou- 
sand millions of tons within a depth of 4,000 
feet? 

facing page vii. For a consideration of the relation of the above 
table to actual experience as to production in the forty years 
since this book was written, see note at the end of the chapter (p. 
279). 

1 The sum of the geometrical series, in millions of tons, 

83-6|i-l-ro35 + (ro35)2+ + (ro35)i<'9| 

■or, which is exactly the same, the value of the definite integral 
/•no 

82-i7(ro35)V^ 
J 
in which the constant 82"i7 has been determined so that 

/'^82-i7(ro35)'^/=83-6. 
J 

2 See pp. 24-28. 

T 



274 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

EvWi though Mr. Hull's estimate be greatly 
under the true amount, we cannot but allow that 
— Rather mo^ than a century of our present pro- 
gress would exhaust our mines to the depth of 
4,000 feet, or i,5(^ feet deeper than our present 
deepest mine. 

I have given reas6ns for believing that if all 
our coal were brought Vrom an average depth of 
some 2,000 feet,^ our manufacturers would have 
to contend with a doubled price of fuel. If the 
average depth were increased to 4,000 feet, a 
further great but unknow'n rise in the cost of 
fuel must be the consequence. 

But I am, far from, asserting, from- these figures, 
that our coal-fields will be wrought to a depth of 
4,000 feet in little m,ore than a century. 

I draw the conclusion that I think any one 
would draw, that we cannot long maintain our 
present rate of increase of consumption ; that 
we can never advance to the higher amounts of 
consumption supposed. But this only means that 
the check to our progress must become perceptible 
within a century from, the present tim.e ; that the 
cost of fuel must rise, perhaps within a lifetime, 
to a rate injurious to our commercial and manu- 
facturing supremacy ; and the conclusion is inevit- 
1 See p. 87 



XII OF OUR CONSUMPTION OF COAL 275 

able, that our present happy progressive condition 
is a thing of limited duration. 

I may here notice that the exact amount of 
our stock of coal is not the matter of chief 
moment. The reader who thoroughly appre- 
hends the natural law of growth, or multiplica- 
tion in social affairs, will see that the absolute 
quantity of coal rather defines the height of 
wealth to which we shall rise than the period 
during which we shall enjoy either the growth or 
the climax of prosperity. For, as the multiplica- 
tion of our numbers and works proceeds at 
a constant rate, the numerical additions, as we 
have fully seen in many statistical illustrations, 
constantly grow. Ultimately the simple addition 
to our consumption in twenty or thirty years 
will become of moment compared with our total 
stores. The addition to our population in four 
years now (1865) is as great as the whole increase 
of the century 1651-1751, and the increase of coal 
consumption between 1859 and 1862 is equal to 
the probable annual consumption at the begin- 
ning of this century. It is on this account that I 
attach less importance than might be thought 
right to an exact estimate of the coal existing in 
Great Britain. Were our coal half as abundant 
again as Mr. Hull states, the effect would only be 

T 2 



276 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

to defer the climax of our growth perhaps for 
one generation. And I repeat, the absolute 
amount of coal in the country rather affects the 
height to which we shall rise than the time for 
which we shall enjoy the happy prosperity of 
progress. 

Suppose our progress to be checked within 
half a century, yet by that time our consumption 
will probably be three or four times what it now 
is ; there is nothing impossible or improbable in 
this ; it is a moderate supposition, considering 
that our consumption has increased eight-fold 
in the last sixty years. But how shortened and 
darkened will the prospects of the country appear, 
with mines already deep, fuel dear, and yet a 
high rate of consumption to keep up if we are 
not to retrograde. 

Doubts have been expressed by Mr. Vivian, 
Mr. Hull, and others, as to whether the number 
of our mining population and the area of our 
coal-fields will admit of any further great extension 
of our yield. It is said that underground hands 
must be born and bred to the occupation of 
coal-mining ; and if we consider that many 
children of miners may be induced to emigrate, 
or to avoid their fathers' occupation on account 



XII OF OUR CONSUMPTION OF COAL 277 

of its hardship and danger, there may be a posi- 
tive lack of hands. Facts utterly negative such 
a notion. The Census returns show the number 
of coal-miners to have been — -^ 

In 1851 183,389 

And in 1861 246,613 

The increase is at the rate of 34*4 per cent in 
ten years, or about 3 per cent per annum, which 
accords well with the rate of increase of coal 
raised, if we remember that the use of machinery, 
and the increased investment of capital in coal- 
mining, enlists greater resources and involves 
greater cost than is expressed in the mere number 
of miners. 

The notion, again, that there is anything in the 
area or condition of our coal-fields to prevent 
a present extension of the yield is completely 

' The Board of Trade Memoranda, etc., on British and Foreign 
Trade and Industry (Cd. 1761), gives the following numbers of 
males engaged in coal-mining (p. 363). 

1851 . 189,647 1881 . . 380,471 
1861 . 266,820 ' 1891 . 515,877 
1871 . . 311,792 1901 . 646,279 

The classification of occupations which afforded the numbers in 
the text would appear to differ in some minor degree, negligible for 
the present purpose, from that which yields the series just quoted. 
The slowest growth in these numbers occurred, it will be noted, 
between 1861 and 1871. In the interval 1881-91 the increase again 
exceeded one-third. 



278 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

contradicted by accounts of the number of col- 
lieries existing in the United Kingdom." 

Year. Number of collieries. 

1854 2,397 

1855 2,613 

1856 ... 2,829 

1857 2,867 

1858 2,958 

1859 2.949 

i860 3,009 

i86i 3,025 

1862 3,088 

1863 3,180 

1864 3,268 

The general increase is at the rate of 36 per cent 
in ten years, or 3-i per cent per annum. Nearly 
the same average rate of increase is shown in 
the number of pits in the Northumberland and 
Durham coal-field, which were 41 in number in 
1799^ and 289 in 1864. 

1 Mineral Statistics, passim. The table of numbers of collieries 
In the United Kingdom, quoted by Committee E of the 1871 
Commission {Report, p. 65) from the Mineral Statistics, includes a 
considerably larger number of collieries in 1854 and 1855 than 
the table in the text shows. The figures of the Commission show 
an increase of 31 per cent in the ten years 1854-64. The number 
of collieries reported for 1875 was 4,501, the highest number for any 
year. The number has fallen back to about the figure reached 
when Jevons wrote, but the decrease of the number of collieries at 
work has not brought with it a diminished output in proportion. 
Deeper shafts need larger outputs to make them paying investments. 
For this and other reasons, modern collieries are larger than those 
of 1865. 

2 P. Cooper, Mining Journal, Jan. 21, 1865. 



xii OF OUR CONSUMPTION OF COAL 279 

If we consider that new pits opened are deeper 
and larger concerns than the old pits laid in, 
and capable of much larger yields, we must allow 
that the coal-owners, at least, both expect and are 
prepared to meet a largely increased demand 
for a good many years to come. But we should 
remember that the more rapid and continued 
our present expansion, the shorter must be its 
continuance. 



Note on the Realised Increase of Coal 
Consumption 

The comparison of the amounts which, as 
shown by Jevons' calculations, would need to be 
produced in order to maintain the rate of increase 
at 35- per cent per annum, with the actual pro- 
duction at the beginning of the twentieth century, 
shows that the check to the continued uniform 
progress which he declared must come within a 
century at most, has made itself felt much sooner. 
It has been maintained that a progressive dimi- 
nution in the rate of increase of production is 
demonstrated, and Mr. R. Price- Williams laid 
elaborate calculations before each of the Royal 
Commissions, based on this assumption. The 
rate of increase has, however, not diminished 



28o 



THE COAL QUESTION chap. 



continuously, but appears to be in process of 
recovery after a depression. Thus, taking the 
output of the last five decennia, we find — 



Period of 
Years 


Average annual 
production of coal 


Increase in 
ten years 


Average rate of 

increase per cent 

per annum 


1855-64 
1865-74 
1875-84 
1885-94 
1895-I904 


Tons 
76,428,198 

112,140,110 

145,009,287 

172,732,526 

214,337,139 


Tons 

35,711,912 
32,869,177 
27,723,239 
41,604,613 


3'9o 
2-6o 
176 
2-i8 



Here decennial averages are taken, so as to avoid 
the risk of comparing a year of advancing 
prosperity with a year of declining activity, 
and the rate of increase obtained by Jevons from 
the comparison of single years is even exceeded. 
Apparently the rate of increase fell off by 
about one-third in each decennium, thus pro- 
ducing a rate of progress even less than that 
given by an arithmetical progression. But the 
decline has not been maintained, and the facts of 
the last thirty years suggest rather a rate rising and 
falling rhythmically, and fluctuating about a level 
which is itself not declining with such certainty as 
to justify calculations as to the rate at which it 
declines, and the time at which the production, 



XII OF OUR CONSUMPTION OF COAL 281 

one year with another, will cease to increase. 
The following indicates the present level of the 
average rate of annual increase of coal output : 

Tons. 

Average production, 1874-84 . . . 143,334,816 
„ „ 1894-1904 . . 211,968,083 

Increase in twenty years . . . 68,633,267 

Rate of increase per cent per annum . . i'97S 

A rate of 2 per cent per annum will therefore 
agree closely with the average results of the last 
thirty years, and, inasmuch as the last ten years 
of the thirty show a higher rate of increase over 
the preceding ten years than 2 per cent per 
annum, we cannot confidently predict that a lower 
rate will be found in the immediate future. 

But the force of the argument set forth by 
Jevons, to show that the rate of 3|- per cent per 
annum could not be maintained for even a century, 
is practically undiminished when applied to the 
lower rate of 2 per cent, which has been the 
average of recent experience. His warnings 
have been put aside, because a mistaken im- 
pression was encouraged, by some who might 
have been expected to appreciate his point 
accurately, that it was bound up with a prophecy 
that the consumption of coal would reach certain 
large figures contained in the present chapter. In 
reality he argued that those figures could not be 



282 



THE COAL QUESTION chap. 



reached so far as concerned the more distant 
future, though he was unable to discern the 
changes which would prevent the attainment of 
those connected in his table with the dates of 
the nearer future. He ventured on something 
resembling a forecast of what would, as well as of 
what could not, happen, when he referred to the 
output of half a century later being three or four 
times as great as at the date of writing (p. 276). 
An annual increase of 2-22 per cent per annum 
would give a production trebled in fifty years. It 
would thus seem to be clear that he did not look 
for the maintenance of the rate of 3^^ per cent for 
even the greater part of half a century. 

Let us see how his method applies to the 
modified rate of 2 per cent, or, rather, oi 21^ per 
cent in ten years, the equivalent of i'975 P^r 
cent per annum. Take, as starting point, the 
figure of 145 million tons, the average output 
of the ten years 1875-84, and we obtain the 
following : 



For the ten years ending 

1884 . . . . 

1894 . . . . 

1904 . . . . 

I914 . . . . 

1924 . . . 

1934 . . . . 

1944 . . . . 

1954 . . . . 



The average yearly production at the 
assumed rate of increase would be 

i45'0 millions of tons. 
I76'2 

2I4'I 

260' I 
. 316-0 

• 383'9 
. 466-5 
. 566-8 



XII OF OUR CONSUMPTION OF COAL 283 

The figure i76"2 compares with the actual 
1727, in a decade including the year 1893, when 
the output fell some twenty million tons below 
the normal. The figure 214-1 compares with the 
realised 214-3. A century hence, at this rate, 
the average annual output would be 1,500 
million tons. The table shows that the attain, 
ment of figures of output, which may be at once 
declared impossible, does not depend on the 
selection of the rate of 2,^ per cent, but on the 
maintenance of a steady geometrical progression. 
At 2 per cent per annum advance, the output of 
the half century ending 1954 would be 19,933 
million tons, and of the succeding half century 
52,776 milhon tons, together 72,709 million tons. 
With an estimated store of 140,000 million tons 
in proved and unproved coal-fields at depths down 
to 4,000 feet, it is sufficiently clear that a rate of 
progress which would exhaust more than the half 
of this store in a century cannot be long main- 
tained. It may be readily admitted that the 
period of the introduction of the steamship, and 
such improvement of the steam-engine as per- 
mitted its ever widening application in industry, 
was a period when an unusual rate of increase in 
coal consumption might be expected. A rate 
somewhat below that attained at such a period 



2 84 THE COAL QUESTION ch. xii 

might not signify a cessation of such prosperity as 
accompanied its high rate. But can any con- 
tention of equal force be set forth in reference to 
the comparison of the future with the present ? 
Must not the inevitable slackening of the rate of 
increase of our coal consumption involve either a 
decrease of national prosperity, or a change in the 
nature of the industries on the domination 
of which in our national life that prosperity has 
been built up ? 



CHAPTER XIII 

OF THE EXPORT AND IMPORT OF COAL 

It has been suggested by many random thinkers 
that when our coal is done here, we may import 
it as we import so many other raw materials from 
abroad. " I can conceive," says one writer, "the 
coal-fields of this country so far exhausted that 
the daughter in her maturity shall be able to pay 
back to the mother more than she herself re- 
ceived. May we not look forward to a time 
when those ' water-lanes ' which both dissever 
and unite the old and new world, shall be trod 
by keels laden with the coal produce of America 
for the ports of Britain ? and in such a traffic 
there will be abundant use for vessels as capa- 
cious and swift as the Great Eastern." 

I am sorry to say that the least acquaintance 
with the principles of trade, and the particular 
circumstances of our trade, furnishes a complete 
negative to all such notions. While the export 



286 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

of coal is a vast and growing branch of our trade, 
a reversal of the trade, and a future return 
current of coal, is a commercial impossibility and 
absurdity. 

But why, it may be asked, can we now export 
millions of tons of coal, and distribute them to 
all the ports of the globe, and yet cannot hope to 
bring back our lost riches in the improved vessels 
of the future ? We have been able to reverse the 
woollen, linen, and cotton trades ; to import the 
copper and tin and lead ^ ores, which we used to 
draw from our own veins ; to buy our supplies 
of food — wheat, dairy produce, butcher's meat, 
and eggs from abroad ; and, even in such a bulky 
material as timber, to replace our own oak and 
elm and beech by the deal and pine, mahogany 
and teak, of distant forests. If by our manu- 
facturing skill we can thus successively reverse 
every great trade, buying raw materials with 
finished goods, instead of finished goods with 
raw materials, why not also reverse the coal- 
trade ? Is not Free Trade the sheet anchor that 
will never fail us ? Unfortunately not. There 
is a false step of analogy in such reasoning. Mark 
what accompanies the reversal of each branch of 

' And, more recently, iron ores as well in large and increasing 
quantities. 



XIII EXPORT AND IMPORT OF COAL 287 

commerce — it is the increased employment of 
coal, and coal-driven labour at home, in the 
smelting-furnace or the factory. The reversal of 
every other branch of trade is the work of coal, 
and the coal-trade cannot reverse itself. And 
the facts which may be adduced concerning the 
coal-export trade so strikingly illustrate the 
importance of our coal-mines to our maritime 
and commercial position that I shall give, at 
some length, arguments which demonstrate, more 
than sufficiently, the impossibility of importing 
coal. 

Trade is manifestly reciprocal, and free trade 
only allows the development of any peculiar ex- 
cellence, or advantage, and the exchange of the 
products for those more easily procured else- 
where. One most peculiar advantage is the 
power which coal, skilfully used, places at our 
disposal. It is our last great resource — the one 
kind of wealth by the sufficient employment 
of which we might reverse every other trade, 
draw every other material from abroad until 
the kingdom was one immense Manchester, or 
one expanse of " Black Country," But take 
away that resource, and our expectations from 
free trade must be of a very minor character. 
" Easy access to the raw material," said Mr. Glad- 



288 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

stone, " and abundant supplies of fuel, lead to 
the creation of manufactures. Put these two 
conditions together, and you have the combina- 
tion which makes South Lancashire a busy manu- 
facturing county, with the great town of Liver- 
pool behind it." But observe that the fuel of 
South Lancashire is a condition as well as the 
raw material from abroad. 

The truth is that the presence of coal as well 
as other raw materials in Pennsylvania, Prussia, 
or New South Wales, or its discovery in Brazil 
or elsewhere, must result in making the whole 
cost of freight a premium upon establishing 
the system of coal-supported industry on the 
spot. Even the narrow seas of St. George's and 
the English Channels are impassable by coal- 
driven industry. Ireland, especially Dublin, has 
drawn coal from Whitehaven time out of mind, 
for domestic purposes and local manufactures. 
But the practical non-existence of coal-mines in 
Ireland has rendered it impossible for any branch 
of manufacture consuming much coal to exist 
there. If a work paid at all in Ireland, there 
must be a margin of profit in transferring the 
work to an English coal-field. Similarly, it is 
explained in a very able Report ^ upon the coal- 

' Situation de Vlndustrie Houillere en 1859, p. 8. 



xiii EXPORT AND IMPORT OF COAL 289 

trade of France in 1859, that no great branch 
of coal-consuming industry could ever arise in 
France upon English coal. 

"We cannot expect," says the reporter, M. 
Rouher, " to make foreign coal the basis of a 
great branch of industry. Coal is a cumbersome 
commodity, and its cost is doubled or tripled by 
lading and unlading, and conveying it 100 or 
200 miles. To demand coal from England and 
compete with the products raised upon English 
coal-fields is manifestly to place ourselves in an 
inferiority. About two tons and a half of coal, 
for instance, are required to produce one ton of 
cast iron. It is much easier to draw our cast 
iron direct from Glasgow, than to transport a 
weight of coal two and a half times greater. It 
requires two or three tons of coal to convert cast 
iron into wrought iron ; that is to say, five tons 
at least are needed to make wrought iron from 
the ore. It is most economical, then, to demand 
from England the finished article." 

No one will properly understand the trade in 
coal who forgets that coal is the most bulky and 
weighty of all commodities. In this, as in other 
respects, it stands wholly by itself. No other 
commodity at all approaches it in the vast quan- 
tity required, and it is even said that the weight 

u 



290 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

of coal carried over English railways is double 
the weight of all other merchandise put together.^ 
The cost of carriage is the main element of price 
everywhere except in the coal-field, or its close 
neighbourhood. The best coal is put on board at 
Newcastle for (^s. or io5'. per ton. Before it 
reaches France [its value is increased by one-half] ; 
to the Mediterranean ports, Genoa, or [Mar- 
seilles, to Alexandria or the ports of the Baltic, 
the freight amounts ordinarily to 55. or ds. per 
ton. In the ports of Brazil or Argentina, the 
value of Welsh coal is about the double of its 
cost when shipped,] while in some remote parts of 
the world coal cannot be purchased for less than 
^Z or £"}) io.r. per ton. 

To go back to the suggestion with which we 
started, that our coal supplies will some time be 
imported from America, let us consider that about 
1,200 colliers, [each carrying 10,000 tons of coal, 
and making a voyage out and home every month,] 
would be required to maintain our present (1905) 
supplies only. [The entire tonnage of our mer- 
cantile marine would scarcely suffice for the trade, 
while the entries of shipping at our ports, due to 
this trade alone, would raise the figures of entries 
in our oversea trade to treble their present total 

^ Situation de VIndustrie Houilllre en 1859, p. 53. 



XIII EXPORT AND IMPORT OF COAL 291 

from] every part of the world. The cost of such 
an enormous fleet would be the weight acting 
against us and in favour of American industry. 
And as all the colliers, railways, and canals can- 
not supply London with coal much under 17s 
per ton, it is extravagant to suppose that 
coal could reach us from America for less. Our 
industry would then have to contend with fuel, its 
all-important food, i/iree or four times as dear as 
it now is in England and America. 

The complete commercial absurdity of the 
supposition renders any more accurate calcula- 
tions superfluous. 

But it is asked. How is a large export trade 
of coal possible, if an import trade is commer- 
cially impossible ? This export trade is far the 
most weighty and widespread trade in the world. 
[Though it is carried on most actively with the 
countries of Europe, it extends to the Pacific as 
well as the Atlantic coast of America, it reaches 
South Africa, and extends across the Indian 
Ocean to Singapore and eastward to China and 
Japan.] 

In short, excluding some of the extremely 
distant North Pacific ports, it may be said that 
British coal is bought and consumed in every 
considerable port in the world. It competes on 

u 2 



292 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

equal terms and gives the price to native coal or 
other fuel, in nearly all maritime parts of the 
world.-' This extraordinary fact is partly due to 
the unrivalled excellence of Newcastle and Welsh 
steam-coals, and the cheapness with which they 
can be put on board ship. But it is mainly due 
to the fact that coal is carried as ballast, or 
makeweight, and is subject to the low rates of 
back-carriage. 

The subject of the variation of freights and 
their influence on the currents of trade is a very 
curious one, but has been so overlooked by 
writers on trade and economy, that I may be 
pardoned giving a few illustrations of its nature 
and importance. 

Whether the mode of conveyance be by vessel, 
canal-boat, waggon, carriage, or pack-horse, the 
vehicle is always required to return back to the 
place whence it started. The whole gains of a 
trip must on the average pay all expenses and 
leave a margin for profit, but it is immaterial 

1 The development of local sources of supply in Australia and 
New Zealand, India and Japan, has reduced the importance of the 
British coal trade in the regions affected by these supplies. If we 
understand by competing on equal terms a competition in which 
price is duly related to quality, the lapse of forty years has not 
destroyed the truth of the statement in the text. For purposes for 
which quality is a consideration subordinate to price, British coal 
has had to yield the field to native supplies, or supplies from 
near-by sources. 



XIII EXPORT AND IMPORT OF COAL 293 

whether the necessary fare or freight-charges be 
paid on the whole or any part of the journey. 
Usually, a hackney coach, post-chaise, or canal- 
boat starts full, upon its outward trip, without 
calculating upon any return fare. In hackney- 
coach regulations the return fare is usually fixed 
at half the chief fare, but in the case of post- 
chaises, canal-boats, and perhaps some other 
conveyances, the return fare is usually the per- 
quisite of the drivers. In the old mode of 
pack-horse conveyance the same was probably 
the case. 

The advantage of gaining something by a 
return journey is so obvious that journeys are 
often planned to allow of profitable return 
freights. For instance, in the days of pack- 
horse conveyance. Sir Francis Willoughby built 
Wollaton Hall, in 1580, of stone brought on 
horseback from Ancaster in Lincolnshire, thirty- 
five miles away, but it was arranged that the 
trains of pack-horses should load back with coal, 
which was taken in exchange for the stone. 
And when efforts were made at the beginning of 
the nineteenth century to bring Staffordshire 
coal to London in order to destroy the previous 
monopoly of the northern coal-owners, it was 
expected that the expense of canal conveyance 



294 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

would be reduced by the back-carriage of manure 
from London thirty or forty miles up the country, 
and of flints all the way from Harefield to the 
Potteries.^ 

The railway tolls on goods traffic, again, are 
not fixed at an uniform rate per ton or per cubic 
foot, as might seem most fair and simple, but 
are adjusted in a complicated tariff so as to 
encourage as large a traffic as possible and give 
the best return. And one chief principle of this 
is to encourage back-traffic by low or almost 
nominal rates. Trucks carrying various materials 
into towns may be used to carry manures and 
refuse out. Waggons carrying coals in one direc- 
tion may carry back ores, slates, bricks, building- 
stone, flints, limestone, etc. 

But it is in oversea conveyance that we find 
the most important instances of the arrange- 
ment of freights. 

In the year 1325 a vessel is recorded to have 
brought corn from France to Newcastle and to 
have returned laden with coal. This is one of 
the earliest notices of the coal trade, but it 
furnishes the exact type of what it has ever since 
been, a simple exchange of cargoes. And King 
Charles seems to have been intelligently aware 

' Second Report on the Coal Trade, 1800, p. 22. 



xni EXPORT AND IMPORT OF COAL 295 

of the reciprocal nature of the coal trade when 
at Oxford, in November, 1643, he wrote to the 
Marquis of Newcastle to send a vessel full of 
coals to Holland and get much-needed arms in 
return/ 

The following is perhaps the most remarkable 
example of an exchange of freight : — " In Corn- 
wall there exist mines of copper and of tin, but 
none of coal. The copper ore, which requires 
the largest quantity of fuel for its reduction, is 
conveyed by ships to the coal-fields of Wales, and 
is smelted at Swansea, whilst the vessels which 
convey it take back cargoes of coal to supply the 
steam-engines for draining the mines, and to 
smelt the tin, which requires a much less quan- 
tity of fuel for that purpose." ^ In this way the 
copper-smelting trade has been carried across an 
arm of the sea and settled in a place where there 
is no copper ore, by the joint attraction of cheap 
fuel and gratuitous carriage. Vessels must have 
conveyed coals to the Cornish engines whether 
they brought back ores or not, and to carry coals 
for copper smelting, too, would require a second 
fleet of vessels. 

The whole coasting trade of the British coasts 

1 Brand's History of Newcastle, vol. ii, p. 286. 

2 Babbage in Barlow's Cyclopadia, 1851, p. 55. 



296 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

is, and always has been, greatly dependent on 
coal.^ Coasters going to any point of the coast 
to bring away slates, stone, lime, agricultural 
produce, etc., go out from Liverpool, Cardiff, 
the Clyde, Newcastle, or other large ports, with 
a cargo of coals, which everywhere meets a 
ready sale. Double freights are thus ensured. 

In many cases a more complicated circle of 
traffic is established. Vessels bringing iron from 
Cardiff to Liverpool, on its way to America, 
often go on with Lancashire coal to Ulverston, 
and return to Cardiff with the haematite ores 
required for mixture with the Welsh argillaceous 
ores. Vessels, again, carrying slates or stone 
to Bristol from the Welsh quarries often take 
steam-coal to Liverpool and return to the Welsh 
coast with bituminous coal for household use, 
the difference of quality being sufficient to 
establish an exchange trade. By such natural 
arrangements, not only are the great currents 
of industrial traffic bound together into one 

1 In the early seventies the amount of coal shipped coastwise by 
sea was almost as great as that shipped abroad. In 1903 between 
19 and 20 million tons of coal were shipped coastwise from ports 
in the United Kingdom, the total clearances with cargoes coast- 
wise being about 31 million tons. These figures show how large 
the relative importance of coal in coastwise traffic still remains. 
Inclusive of bunker coal, the coastwise coal trade is now of about 
one-third the magnitude of the foreign coal trade. 



XIII EXPORT AND IMPORT OF COAL 297 

profitable whole, but coal is supplied cheaply to 
all parts of the coast, where it is landed at the 
nearest convenient place to a village, or group 
of villages, and retailed from a central coal-yard. 
The household coal, with smith's small coal, 
culm for lime-burning, draining-tiles, and a few 
other articles, form the only common and general 
■coasting cargoes. On the other hand, whenever 
there is a great preponderance of freight in one 
direction, the shipping must necessarily return 
empty, like the railway coal-waggons from London. 
The sailing or steam colliers which supply the 
London market not only have no outward freight 
as a usual thing, but they have to purchase 
ballast in the Thames and discharge it in the 
Tyne. The ballast-wharves of the Tyne are often 
mentioned in the very early history of Newcastle, 
and the heaps of gravel, and stones, and rubbish 
drawn from the ships have grown from those 
days to these.^ 

" To carry on the coasting trade in coal to 
London, 10,000 tons of gravel are weekly sup- 
plied in the Thames, and establishments in the 
North are actually paid for discharging and 
conveying it to a convenient place of deposit." ^ 

' The introduction of the system of water ballast has, of course, 
modified the growth of ballast-heaps. 

2 Dunn on the Winning and Working of Coal Mines, p. 338. 



298 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

At, one period of his life, George Stephenson 
was brakesman to the fixed engine which hauled 
up the ballast upon the heap, "a monstrous 
accumulation of earth, chalk, and Thames mud, 
already laid there to form a puzzle for future 
antiquarians." ^ And Stephenson often earned 
extra wages in the evening by taking a turn at 
heaving the ballast out of the collier vessels, 
while his engine was taken in charge by his 
friend Fairbairn. 

In the foreign trade the influence of freights 
is far more distinct and important. A ship is 
often chartered for a specific voyage out and 
home, freight being provided both ways ; but 
more commonly the homeward freight is the 
chief object the British shipowner aims at, and 
he sends the ship out often at a loss upon the 
outward passage, depending upon the captain or 
foreign agents to find a profitable home cargo. 
This important circumstance concerning the 
shipping and trading interests has often been 
alluded to, in pamphlets, speeches, or parlia- 
mentary reports. Dr. Buckland, for instance, thus 
explained the curious fact that Netherland coal 
was exported to America and avoided France, 
so much in want of it for her manufactures, by 

' Smiles' Lives of the Engineers^ vol. iii, pp. 38-41. 



XIII EXPORT AND IMPORT OF COAL 299. 

attributing it to the want of back-carriage.^ 
Mr. T. Y. Hall, again, stated clearly: — "The 
owners of vessels trading between England and 
France find that coal answers the purpose of 
ballast when other goods cannot be obtained at 
remunerative freights." ^ But the most distinct 
statement is in a pamphlet called forth by Sir 
Robert Peel's proposal, in 1842, to revive the 
export tax on coal.^ 

" The proposed duty would produce also an 

1 Report on the Coal Trade ^ 1830. 

^ Trans. N. of England Institute of Mining Engineers, vol. vi, 
p. 106. 

' Observations on the proposed Duties on the Exportation of 
Coals, London, 1842, pp. 14, 15. 

Similarly, an American report, referring to the effect of the 
Russian import duty on coal, states : — 

" Russia being an agricultural country and exporting its bread- 
stuffs is losing on its agricultural exports, because the high tariff 
is causing high freight rates from Russia to foreign ports, since 
foreign merchant vessels have to arrive in ballast and thus charge 
high return freights from Russian ports. A comparison of rates 
from Odessa to England and Argentine ports to England shows- 
that, whereas rates for wheat from the Russian port are ranging 
between 3*0 and 4'6 cents per pood, the rates for Argentine ports 
are between 2'2 and 3'o cents per pood, the reason being that 
English imports and exports to and from Argentina are more 
evenly balanced than those to and from Russia. As a matter of 
fact, the number of vessels which entered the port of Odessa with 
cargoes during the year 1897 was but 46 per cent of the total 
number of vessels arrived, whereas, in the case of Argentina, the 
proportion was 70 per cent. It is natural then that freight rates 
on Russian wheat are higher than those on Argentine wheat" 
{^Coal Trade of the United States, Monthly Summary of Commerce 
and Finance of the United States, Sept. 1902, p. 728). 



300 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

indirect but injurious effect upon the importation 
of the raw materials of manufactures into this 
country at the lowest cost. It is well known 
that most of these articles are of a bulky nature ; 
it is important to reduce the expense of freight 
upon them, and this the present facility for ex- 
porting coal secures to a considerable degree, 
being an article that provides an outward freight 
to a ship. This is peculiarly illustrated in the 
Baltic, from whence tallow, hemp, flax, and 
timber, articles of low value but great bulk, con- 
stitute the objects of imports, while our principal 
articles of export are indigo, cochineal, dyes, 
drugs, gums, &c., articles of great value but small 
bulk ; so that it is necessary to have some com- 
pensating article of low value for our own ex- 
portation, to equalise and reduce the rate of 
freight. The same reasoning applies to our im- 
ports from the Mediterranean, and indeed most 
places of our intercourse from whence we derive 
our raw materials ; while the export of common 
goods, such as anchors, chains, and other 
heavy commodities, of which whole cargoes can 
never be made up, has materially increased at 
Newcastle and Sunderland since the facility of 
shipment of coal by exporting ships has been 
provided." 



XIII EXPORT AND IMPORT OF COAL 301 

In British trade, especially under the present 
free-trade policy, there is a great preponderance 
of homeward cargoes. Our imports consist of 
bulky raw materials and food. Nearly the whole 
of the corn, fruits, live stock, provisions, sugar, 
coffee, tea, tobacco, spirits, are consumed here. 
Timber, hemp, guano, hides, bones, with dye and 
tan materials, such as logwood, indigo, valonia, 
are either consumed here, or contribute little to 
the bulk of our exports. Cotton, silk, wool, and 
flax are either used up in this country, or re- 
turned of a smaller bulk. Our exports of cast 
and wrought iron, hardwares, and general manu- 
factures are rather heavy than bulky, and of a 
far higher value than the imports proportionally 
to the bulk. A large part of our shipping would 
thus have to leave our ports half empty, or in 
ballast, unless there were some makeweight or 
natural supply of bulky cargo as back-carriage.-^ 

Salt to some extent supplies the Liverpool 
shipowners with outward cargo, and it is re- 

1 It is interesting to note that the proportion of tonnage clearing 
in ballast is at present about the same as forty years ago. Thus, 
comparing the figures for 1864, which Jevons may be supposed to 
have had in mind, with the latest return, we have :— 

Total tonnage cleared from ports in the United Kingdom in the 
oversea trade — 



Total cleared. 


With cargoes. 


In ballast. 


Tons. 


Tons. 


Tons. 


13.689,49s 


12,172,774 


1,516,724 


54,571.476 


48,466,364 


6,105,112 



302 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

markable that the tenth Earl of Dundonald, a 
man as ingenious and energetic as the late Earl, 
clearly foresaw the value of the salt trade in this 
respect, and urged its extension upon the nation 
in an able pamphlet^ of the year 1785. Though 
the Northern nations then drew their salt from 
Spain, Portugal, or Sardinia, he held that " salt 
may become a great article of export trade from 
this country" to Flanders, Holland, part of 
Germany, Prussia, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, 
and Russia, because two-thirds of the outward- 
going vessels to some of these countries sail in 
ballast, making their freight upon their home- 
ward voyage, and it was not to be doubted that 
they would rather accept half freights which, 
however small, are a clear gain, than incur the 
cost of ballast. Our export of salt exactly fulfils 
the purpose explained by the Earl, but on a more 
extensive scale than he could possibly have an- 
ticipated. In 1 86 1 about 700,000 tons of salt 
were exported from England, by far the largest 
part of which comes down the Weaver from 
the Cheshire works to Liverpool, and is there 
shipped.^ 

' The Present State of the Manufacture of Salt Explained^ by 
the Earl of Dundonald : London, 1785. 

2- Braithwaite Poole, On the Commerce of Liverpool, 1854, p. 33 
The export of salt had fallen somewhat by the beginning of the 



xiii EXPORT AND IMPORT OF COAL 303 

There is a curious relation, too, between the 
'earthenware manufacture and the shipping in- 
terest of the Western ports. From early times, 
indeed, the Staffordshire earthenware trade has 
presented a remarkable instance of the arrange- 
ment of freights. The materials of earthenware, 
fuel, flintstones, and clay are never found together, 
like the materials of the iron manufacture ; the 
finished earthenware, too, is of so bulky a nature 
when packed in crates, that a large part of its 
cost depends upon the cost of conveyance. 
Proximity to a coal-field is the first requisite of 
a pottery ; proximity to a market the next requi- 
site. Both these requisites are combined in the 
Staffordshire potteries. In the days of pack- 
horse conveyance their central position was of 
great importance, because the pack-horses, which 
brought the flints and clay from the nearest ports, 
•could be used to carry and distribute the crockery 
slung in crates over the horses' backs. The flints 
were brought from the chalk districts of the 
south-east of England, by sea to Hull, and thence 

twentieth century. In the five years 1900-4 it averaged a httle 
under 600,000 tons. In evidence before the U.S. Industrial Com- 
mission in 1900, salt imported into the United States was referred 
to as "the Enghsh surplus product, which is shipped here as 
ballast. Salt comes from Liverpool to Savannah at an average 
rate of 75 cents (3 J.) per ton of 2,240 pounds" {Report of the 
Industrial Commission, vol. xiii, Review of Evidence, p. xxx.). 



304 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

up the Trent as far as possible ; while the clay- 
came from Devonshire and Cornwall, either by 
the Severn as far as Bewdley, or up the Mersey 
and Weaver to Winsford.^ 

In later days, the early opening of canal com- 
munication and the commercial proximity of the 
potteries to Liverpool have been of the highest 
importance to both. So much iron and other 
heavy articles are shipped at Liverpool, that the 
shipowners need some light, bulky article to fill 
up the higher parts of the ships' holds. A con- 
siderable part of the produce of the Staffordshire 
potteries, accordingly, goes to Liverpool, the ex- 
port of crockery being stimulated by the favour- 
able freights offered. And such is the demand 
for crockery at the port, that several attempts 
have been made to attract the manufacture itself 
to Liverpool or Birkenhead. Further, the Clyde 
shipowners, having a great superfluity of heavy 
iron cargoes, and experiencing a like want of 
light freight to complete the loading of their 
ships, have actually attempted to create a pottery 
manufacture about Glasgow with that purpose.^ 
At Liverpool, indeed, the whole products of 

^ Smiles' Engineers^ vol. i, p. 447. 

2 Hearn's Plutology,^. 310, quoting Journal 0/ the Statistical 
Society, vol. xx, p. 134. 



XIII EXPORT AND IMPORT OF COAL 305 

the Lancashire factories, the earthenware and 
hardware of Staffordshire, the iron of South 
Wales, added to the salt of Cheshire, furnish a 
large mass of outward cargo, and the export of 
coal has hitherto been of minor importance. But 
with the progress of trade, that port will receive 
such immense masses inwards, that outward 
cargoes of coal will come more into demand. In 
1850, Mr. William Laird urged the suitability of 
Liverpool for the export of coal, and there cannot 
be a doubt that in the natural progress of our 
trade, coal-staiths at Liverpool or Runcorn, sup- 
plied by direct lines from the South Lancashire 
field, will ship great amounts of coal ballast.^ 

At other ports coal is, and long has been, an 
inestimable benefit to the shipowners. It is 
destructive to their profits to keep a vessel long 
in port waiting for cargo, and it is worse to send 
her off in ballast. Where there are coal-staiths, 
however, she can be loaded and dispatched in a 
day or two, with a cargo that will at least pay 
expenses, and find a ready sale in any part of the 
world. It is on this principle that the Great 

' The anticipation here expressed has not advanced towards 
realisation in forty years, the export of coal from Liverpool and 
Runcorn remaining about the same in amount. Large amounts of 
bunker-coal, exceeding by four- or five-fold the coal shipped as 
cargo, are novir shipped from the Mersey. 

X 



3o6 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

Central Railway are developing Grimsby as a 
port. Just in proportion, it is found, as they 
offer outward cargoes of coal can they induce 
vessels to resort to the port with their inward 
cargoes. 

It is in the rates of freight that we can best 
study the relative demand and supply of cargo. 
A want of outward cargo causes shipowners to 
bid for what is to be had, and reduce their prices 
of freight accordingly. Were there no ballast 
cargo like coal available, the outward rates must 
become quite nominal, until it would be profit- 
able to send bricks, flagstones, and paving stones 
on long sea voyages. But the fact that coal 
may always be shipped establishes a certain 
minimum rate of freight depending upon the 
price at which we can compete with foreign coal 
or other fuel, and force a trade so essential to 
our shipowners.^ 

1 The development of the steamship during the past forty years 
has resulted in such marked alterations, both in the general level 
of freight rates and in the currents of trade, that the striking 
illustrations given by Jevons in support of his general thesis have 
no close relation to present-day conditions, and they have been 
omitted in this edition. In general, it is still true that coal is 
conveyed at very low rates, as return freight, to places which offer 
opportunities for obtaining a profitable homeward cargo. Such 
differences in freight-rates as were illustrated by the quotations of 
■20S. to Bombay, 30J. to Aden, and 50^. to Suez have vanished. In 
these cases the opening of the Suez Canal has produced new 



XIII EXPORT AND IMPORT OF COAL 307 

In the course of freight rates we may detect 
many effects of demand and supply, as well as a 
general confirmation of the facts stated. Thus 
the outward freight to Bombay [early in 1904 was 

conditions. The rates to eastern and western Mediterranean ports 
do not differ very much, and the rates to Aden and Bombay are 
nearly the same. The differences of rates due to the greater 
facility for procuring a return cargo at one than at another of ports 
not very far distant from each other is no longer measured in 
shillings per ton, but in pence, and when differences are thus small 
it is a matter of some difficulty to assign them to one special 
cause, unless the general course of freights over a long period be 
studied rather than such isolated quotations as served the purpose 
in 1865. 

Contrasts of homeward rates with outward coal freights can still 
be found without difficulty. Two such are given in the text, and 
to these another may be added. On February i8th, 1905, the 
Times reported an outward rate of ioj. for coals to the west coast 
of America. On the 6th of the same month, the homeward rate 
from nitrate ports was quoted at 21J. 3^., while on the date of the 
above-quoted outward rate 30^-. was quoted for early shipments. 

In illustration of the differences of homeward rates to coal ports 
and to other ports, the rates from Alexandria, quoted in Fairflay 
at the beginning of June, 1905, may be taken, namely, to London 
7J., to Hull 6^. dd., though part of the difference may be due to 
differences of charges on shipping in the two ports. 

The development of the coalfields of Australia, Japan, India and 
British Columbia has largely modified the importance of our ship- 
ments of coal to points where supplies from these sources compete 
with British coal. Thus, on the west coast of South America, the 
competition of Australian coal is severe ; in California the coal 
from British Columbia, as well as that from Australia, competes 
both with British coal and with the coal of Chili and of Wash- 
ington respectively. 

Another point of considerable importance in particular trades is 
that, low as coal freights are, modern ships can be built so as to be 
operated economically in the carriage of coal alone, any homeward 
freight being a source of additional profit. In these cases, an 

X 2 



3o8 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

los. 6d. per ton, the homeward freight being 135. 
in January and 16^. in February. Later in the 
year the homeward rate advanced to igs., and, 
with the improvement in the homeward rate, the 
outward rate decHned rapidly, reaching 6s. per 
ton. 

Similarly, the outward rates to the River Plate 
were about 6^. 6d. to ys. 6d. for most of the year 
1904, the homeward freight being 21s. in January 
and i8s. to 19^. in the later months of the year. 
For a short time in the middle of the year the 
homeward rate fell to i^s., and the outward rate 
went up to 8^. ;^d. 

These quotations show the effect on outward 
coal freights of the varying facilities for procuring 
a homeward cargo which follow the course of the 
seasons. The ease with which our coal competes 

argument which depends on the assumption of ballast-rates for the 
carriage of coal will, of course, not apply. 

The conceptions on which Jevons dwelt in this connection will 
be found applicable to important lines of trade elsewhere. Thus 
the vessels which carry iron-ore from the Lake Superior ports to 
ports on Lake Erie may find a return cargo of coal to the upper 
lake ports. Some of the railroads, too, find it profitable to carry 
coal westward in the cars which have, on their eastward journey, 
been filled with the grain of the west. We thus find the principle, 
which Jevons illustrated by an exchange of wheat and coal between 
New York and British ports, illustrated in the movement of the 
same commodities within the United States, though the develop- 
ment of the coal-fields of the Eastern States has put an end to the 
purchases of British coal on the Atlantic seaboard. 



XIII EXPORT AND IMPORT OF COAL 309 

in foreign markets varies in like fashion, as illus- 
trated by the following. " In the San Francisco 
market the coals of the world compete, and the 
relative importance of this or that source varies 
from year to year in accordance with somewhat 
complex laws of supply. Foreign coal enters this 
port chiefly as ballast in tramp steamers seeking 
grain cargoes, so that the condition of the wheat 
export trade has a direct bearing upon the coal 
imports." ^] 

It would be difficult to over-estimate the bene- 
fits the trade in coal has conferred upon us. 
Writers for some centuries back have been 
unanimous in regarding the Newcastle collier 
fleet as the nursery of our seamen. The " New- 
castle voyage is ... if not the onely, yet the 
especiall nursery and schoole of seamen : For, 
as it is the chiefest, so it is the gentlest, and 
most open to landmen." ^ And no one could 
better have expressed than the writer of the 
above the way in which an Englishman regards 
a ship. " As concerning ships, it is that which 
every one knoweth, and can say, they are our 
weapons, they are our ornaments, they are our 
strength, they are our pleasures, they are our 

• imd. Annual Report of the U.S. Geological Survey, 1900-1901, 
part iii, p. 481. ^ The Trades' Increase, p. 25. 



3IO THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

defence, they are our profit ; the subject by 
them is made rich, the kingdome through them 
strong ; the Prince in them is mighty ; in a word 
by them in a manner we Hve, the kingdome is, 
the king reigneth." ^ 

Another able anonymous writer, in arguing 
against the old ^s. tax upon sea-borne coal, ex- 
presses similar views, his chief purpose being 
" to show how pernicious this tax upon coal is 
to Trade and Navigation, the safety and glory of 
England." ' 

" The collier trade is the true parent and 
support of our navigation." 

" The collier fleet," he says again,^ " is the 
great body of the shipping of England, and all 
our other trades are served by detachments from 
it. Our East country, Norway, and a great part 
of the West Indian fleet, are but parts of the 
collier fleet ; from which they may depart one 
or two voyages in the year, as the contingency 
of the market abroad, or a chance freight at 
home offers. From which as soon as performed, 
they return again into the collier trade ; that is, 
indeed, the refuge, as well as the nursery of our 

^ TAe Trades' Increase, p. 2. 

^ The Mischief of the Five-Shilling Tax upon Coal, London 
1699, p. 3. 3 jf,ij^ p 5 



XIII EXPORT AND IMPORT OF COAL 311 

navigation." But in the following he expresses 
still more exactly the part that coal now plays 
in our coasting and foreign shipping. " It's the 
collier trade alone that affords constant work to 
the navigation of England. It is there that 
every idle ship and every idle saylor are sure 
never to want a voyage or a berth to New- 
castle." ^ 

" The collier trade is the most huge and bulky 
trade that possibly can be managed, and there- 
fore in its nature most proper, above all others, 
to employ not only vast numbers of people upon 
it, but to afford continual work for them. All 
our other trades are by fits and starts. Ships 
and sailors must have constant work." ^ 

And the French so clearly perceived forty 
years ago the maritime advantages this trade 
gives that they attributed to us the policy of 
promoting exportation. 

" The English Government uses every possible 
means to stimulate an exportation which contri- 
butes powerfully to its maritime preponderance 
without hurting its industrial preponderance." ^ 

And the Newcastle manufacturers were and 
are well aware of the advantages they enjoy. 

1 The Mischief of the Five-Shilling Tax upon Coal. London, 
1699, p. 5. ^ Ibid., p. 6. ^ Situation de Find, etc., p. 27. 



312 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

" The ready communication," they said in a 
memorial more than half a century ago, " which 
has been obtained with foreign ports, by means 
of the numerous vessels employed in the expor- 
tation of coals, has greatly facilitated the sale 
of the various articles manufactured by your 
memorialists, and has consequently increased 
the value of property employed in manufactures 
in this district."^ 

Our exports of coal now amount to [nearly fifty] 
million tons in a year, the sale of which in foreign 
ports must return fully [sixteen] millions sterling to 
our coalowners, and [ten or twelve] millions in the 
shape of freight to our shipowners. To prohibit 
this trade would therefore be to incur a burden 
equal to the income tax at its worst. And though 
the greater part of this burden would be borne 
by the community in general as the consumers 
of foreign produce, it would be inflicted through 
that branch of our industry, our navigation, 
which is truly the safety and glory of England. 

But on the other hand we cannot look upon 
our growing exports without anxiety. The 
following numbers show the extraordinary rate 
of growth since the repeal of the export tax. 

1 Memorial of the Manufacturers of the Tyne, of iron lead 
glass, rope, alkali, sail-cloth, etc. (1842 ?). 



XIII EXPORT AND IMPORT OF COAL 



3^3 



EXPORT OF COAL.i 



Year 


Amount of coal 
exported 


Duty per ton on coal exported to 
foreign countries 


Rate of increase 
per cent of ex- 
ports in ten years 


1821 

1831 

1 841 
1B51 
1861 
1871 
18B1 
1891 
igoi 


Tons 
260,314 

508,697 

1,848,294 
3,468,545 
7,855.11s 
12,549,874 
19.174.753 
30,356,328 
42,684,752 


s. d. 
t In British ships 10 

I In foreign ships 12 

/ In British ships 3 4 

\ In foreign ships 6 8 

los. per cent 








95 

263 
88 

126 
60 
S3 
S8 
14 



Our exports were more than trebled in the ten 
years 183 1-4 1 under a temporary repeal of the 
duty, and more than doubled themselves in the 
ten years following the complete repeal in 1850. 

[The subsequent increase has far more than 
kept pace with the increase in production. In the 
middle of the nineteenth century the exports 
were about one-tenth of the annual output of our 
mines. At the end of the century nearly one- 
fifth of the output was sent abroad, in addition to 
a large and rapidly increasing amount supplied 
as bunker-coal to ships engaged in our foreign 
trade.] 

' See also note at the end of the chapter. The export duty was 
removed in 1834, as regards most countries, under reciprocity 
agreements. It was restored in 1842 at a reduced rate, and re- 
pealed in 184s for shipments in British ships, and in 1850 entirely- 



314 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

No one can doubt that the extension of our 
commerce and the growth of Continental industry- 
will demand a continued increase of exports. 

" Independent of the superiority of the article, 
the freights of vessels from our shores are getting 
so low, and the distance between Great Britain 
and the coast of France is so short, that we 
shall always be able to have the advantage 
over Belgian and even French coal in the sea- 
port towns." ^ 

And the inevitable progress of free trade will 
ever increase the tendency to export coal. As 
we subsist more and more upon foreign corn, 
meat, sugar, rice, coffee, tea, fruit, etc., and work 
more and more on foreign timber, ores, cotton, 
silk, wool, dye-woods, oils, seeds, etc., while 
returning the costly and elaborate products of 
our steam-driven factories, there must be an ever- 
growing surplus of inward freights and a corre- 
sponding demand for outward ballast freights.^ 

' At the date of the original publication of The Coal 
Question, France was importing about 4 million tons of coal yearly 
from Belgium, about 1,250,000 or a little more from Great Britain, 
and an equal amount from Prussia and Bavaria. In the last year 
or two the French imports have been, in round figures, from 
Belgium 5 million tons, from Great Britain 7 million tons, and from 
Germany 2 million tons annually. 

2 In a very instructive paper read before the Statistical Society 
in 1903, Mr. D. A. Thomas quotes the following estimates given to 
the Chamber of Shipping by Mr. Williamson, of Liverpool, as to 



XIII EXPORT AND IMPORT OF COAL 315 

Our foreign coal trade has been, is, and will be 
an integral and essential part of our system. It 
is the alpha and omega of our trade. As it was 
the earliest nursery of our seamen, so it is now 
their especial support, and it bids fair to hasten 
us to an early end. It makes our limited fields 
the common property of the sea-coast inhabitants 
of all countries. The Newcastle mines are almost 
as high a benefit to the French, Dutch, Prussian, 
Danish, Norwegian, Russian, Spanish, and Italian 
coast-towns, as to our own. And foreigners not 
unnaturally think we are simple enough in thus 
lending ourselves to them. "It has often been 
repeated, for some time past, that there is one 
simple means of competing with England in her 
manufactures. It is to buy her coal from her, 
and England has lent herself to this design by 
developing and facilitating her exportation of 
coal in every possible way."' 

the relative weight of imports, exports, and coal exports, as 
follows : — 



Year 


Weight of imports 


Weight of exports 
including coal 


Weight of exports 
other than coal 


1869 
1880 
1890 
1898 


Tons 
12,776,000 

24,359,000 

29,793,000 

37,137,000 


Tons 
15,891,000 

30,944,000 

46,752,000 

55,481,000 


Tons 
3,000,000 

7,315,000 

8,525,000 1 

7,670,000 



{Journal of the Royal Statistical Society, vol. Ixvi., 1903, p. 455.) 
1 Situation de V Industrie HouilUre en 1859. 



3i6 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

The extraordinary progress of our steam marine 
was noticed in a previous chapter. Its close 
connection with the export trade in coal cannot 
escape attention. Our lines of steam-vessels 
create a demand for coal at the most distant 
and widely extended points of the globe ; while 
low outward freights enable coal to be sent 
cheaply to those points. Accordingly, as long 
as Britain maintains her present commercial and 
maritime position, not only the continental and 
other sea-coasts, in most parts of the world, but 
also the greater part of the steam-vessels plying 
on every sea, will draw their supplies from those 
seaboard coal-fields of Newcastle, South Wales, 
the Clyde, and the Mersey, which, taken as a 
whole, in the various quality of their fuel, in 
their facilities of shipment, and their supply of 
over-sea freight, are wholly unrivalled by any 
other coal-fields. 

The absurdity of the notion of this country 
importing coals on any large scale will now be 
apparent. The fact that we now export large 
quantities of coal, instead of showing the possibility 
of a return current, shows its commercial impossi- 
bility. The coal exported acts as a make-weight, 
to remedy in some degree the one-sided character 
of our trade. Coal is to us that one great raw- 



XIII EXPORT AND IMPORT OF COAL 317 

material which balances the whole mass of the 
other raw materials we import, and which we pay 
for either by coal in its crude form, or by manu- 
factures which represent a greater or less quantity 
of coal consumed in the steam-engine or the 
smelting furnace. To import coal as well as other 
raw materials would be against the essentially 
reciprocal nature of trade.-* The weight of our 
inward cargoes would be multiplied many times, 
and but little weight left for outward carriage ; 
almost every influence which now acts, and for 
centuries has acted, in favour of our maritime and 
manufacturing success would then act against it, 

1 A recent discussion of the question of American exports of 
coal to Europe contains the following : — " The real question at 
issue then is not merely that of comparative cost of production, 
but the combined cost of producing and shipping the coal to the 
foreign port. And it must be said that in this respect Great 
Britain possesses a great advantage over this country, and this is, 
that whereas the weight and bulk of articles exported from this 
country are much larger than the weight and bulk of imports to 
this country, exactly the opposite is true in the case of Great 
Britain. Since there is no reason to expect in the near future 
a reversal in that relation, the advantage of the British shipper of 
coal over his American competitor under normal conditions 
becomes quite patent. Even with the present excess of exports 
numerous vessels arrive in ballast at American ports ; the addition 
of coal exports would merely add to this number. Considerable 
exports of coal are more likely to be made in the near future from 
southern ports, where coal may be used as additional or com- 
plementary cargo for vessels used in the transportation of cotton." 
The Coal Trade of the United States, in Monthly Summary of 
Commerce and Finance of the U.S., Sept. 1902, p. 728. 



3i8 



THE COAL QUESTION chap. 



and it would be arrogance and folly indeed to 
suppose that even Britain can carry forward her 
industry in spite of nature, and in the want of 
every material condition. In our successes 
hitherto it is to nature we owe at least as much as 
to our own energies. 

Note on the Statistics of Coal Exports. 



The Table on p. 313 traces the export of coal 
and coke by the use of the figures of single years 
at decennial intervals. In recent official publica- 
tions an adjusted figure is compiled, differing 



Period 
of years 


Average amount 
of coal exported 


Rate of increase 

per cent in ten 

years or as for , 

ten years 


1816-24 


Tons 
258,528 




1825-34 


461,047 


84 


1835-44 


1,472,967 


219 


1845-54 


3>27i,i3i 


122 


1855-64 


7,405,363 


126 


1865-74 


11,774,201 


59 


1875-84 


18,577,204 


58 


1885-94 


28,513,136 


53 


I 895- I 904 


41,814,476 


47 



from the simple weight of coal exported by the 
allowance made for the fact that coke represents 
a weight of coal about two-thirds greater than 



XIII EXPORT AND IMPORT OF COAL 319 

itself, and by deducting one-tenth from the weight 
of patent fuel exported, to allow for other materials 
than coal contained in it. The table on the 
opposite page is made up on this basis. 

If we include bunker coal, the figures for the 
last three decennia become : — 



Period 
of years 


Average 

shipments 

of coal 


Rate of increase 

per cent in ten 

years 


1875-84 
1885-94 
I 895-1 904 


Tons 
23,343,985 

36,289,179 

54,591,463 


681 

55 
50 



' As the record of bunker-coal begins only in 1873, this figure 
is obtained by estimating the bunker-coals shipped in the years 
1865-72 to bear the same proportion to the tonnage of steam 
shipping cleared from British ports as in the years 1875-84. 
This makes the average amount of bunker-coal shipped in 1865-74 
about 2,100,000 tons per annum. It may be noted that, were it 
estimated at as high a figure as 3 million tons, the rate of increase 
would be 58 per cent, as in the preceding table. To obtain this 
last result, fully 60 per cent must be added to the estimate actually 
used for shipments of bunker-coal during 1865-72. 



CHAPTER XIV 

ON THE COMPARATIVE COAL RESOURCES OF 
DIFFERENT COUNTRIES 

It is essential to our inquiry to view the several 
coal-producing countries comparatively. Thus 
only can we gain a true notion of our singular 
position, [and of the changes which are in progress. J 
The following statement gives the amounts of 
coal raised about the years 1 858-1 860, in the 
chief coal-producing countries : — 

Annual production 
Tons 

Great Britain, i860 80,042,698 

United States 14,333,922' 

British American Possessions . . . 1,500,000' 

New South Wales 250,000 

Prussia, Saxony, etc 12,000,000 

Belgium 8,900,000 

France 7,900,000 

Russian Empire (estimated) .... 1,500,000 

Austria 1,162,900 

Spain 300,000 

Japan, China, Borneo, etc. (estimated) 2,000,000 

' Reports respecting Coal, 1866, p. 147. 

^ Hull, Coal-fields of Great Britain, 2nd ed., p. 29 ; and Situation 
de I'Ind., etc., p. 1 1 1, quoting a report of M. Gonot, Ingdnieur en chef 



cH.xiv THE WORLD'S COAL RESOURCES 321 

Of a total produce of 1 30 millions of tons, 96 
millions were produced by nations of British origin 
and language, and 80 millions were produced in 
Great Britain itself. 

Of the chief material agent of modern civiliza- 
tion, three parts out of five, or 60 per cent, were 
in the use of Great Britain ; and nearly three 
parts out of four, or 75 per cent, were in the use 
of Anglo-Saxon nations. 

The reader must form for himself, if he can, an 
adequate notion of the stimulus which the posses- 
sion of such a mighty power gave to our race. 

[The progress of the coal output in the principal 
coal-producing countries, and of the total pro- 
duction of the world, is indicated in the Table 
on the following page.' 

Though the coal production of Great Britain 
has nearly trebled in the course of the forty-three 
years between the date dealt with in the preceding 

des Mines du Hainaut, 1858. [The estimate of the output of 
British America is very much too high. On the other hand, the 
output of New South Wales in i860 was stated about 50 per cent 
higher than the above figure in the Report of Committee E of the 
1871 Commission. The figures of the table appear not to include 
lignite.] 

1 See also end of chapter. The figures are those given by The 
Colliery Guardian, and printed in the Coal Commission's Final 
Report, part xi, pp. 48-9. Some slight changes have been made 
on the basis of later corrected figures for 1903. Lignite is included 
in these figures. 

Y 



322 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

Table and the latest date referred to in the Table 
below, the proportion of the entire world's pro- 
duction which is raised in this country has fallen 
from 60 per cent to 27 per cent. The proportion 
of the whole which is controlled by Anglo-Saxon 
nations, though not maintained at the high figure 
of three-fourths, has been about two-thirds of the 
whole at each of the dates for which figures are 
quoted. 







Annual Production 






Thousands of tons (2,240 


lbs.) 




1875 


1889 


1903 


Great Britain .... 


133,306 


176,917 


230,334 


United States 


46,686 


126,098 


319,068 


British North America . 


929 


2,373 


7,140 


Australasia . . 


1,362 ^ 


4,544 


8,535 


India . ... 


648 


2,045 


7,438 


Germany 


47,756 


83,614 


159,846 


France . . 


16,686 


23,915 


34,345 


Belgium . . . 


14,771 


19,552 


23,529 


Russia . . 


1,674 


6,107 


17,522 


Austria-Hungary 


12,854 
277,531 


24,923 


39,528 


Total world's output . . 


474,230 


863,650; 



Let us compare the amounts with the com- 
parative stores of coal existing in the several 
countries which have been explored. The actual 
quantities of coal, indeed, are almost wholly 
unknown ; we can only compare the supposed 
areas of the coal-fields. This has been done by 
Professor Rogers, in the following statement : — ^ 



^ Not including New Zealand. 

'^ Edinburgh Review, vol. cxi, i860, p. 



XIV THE WORLD'S COAL RESOURCES 323 

Ai^a of Coal Lands in 
square miles 

United States 196,650 

British North American Possessions . 7,S30 

Great Britain S)400 

France 984 

Prussia .... 960 

Belgium 510 

Bohemia 400 

Westphalia 380 

Spain 200 

Russia 100 

Saxony 30 

[The progress of knowledge of the mineral 
resources of all parts of the world is seen by 
comparing Professor Rogers' figures with those of 
M. Ed. Loz6, which, with the substitution of 
official figures for the United States and Canada, 
are as follows : — ^ 

Square miles, 

China 232,500 

United States 335,000 

Canada 97,2oo 

India .... 35,000 

New South Wales 24,000 

Russia in Europe 20,000 

United Kingdom 12,000 

Spain 5,500 

Japan 5,000 

France 2,500 

Austria- Hungary 1,800 

Germany ij7oo 

Belgium 500 

Total . . . 772,700] 



' Final Report of Royal Commission on Coal Supplies, part xi, 
p. 34. Loz^, whose estimate was made in 1901, gives 200,000 
square miles for the United States, and 65,000 square miles for 
Canada. 



y 2 



324 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

Such estimates, indeed, can pretend to no 
accuracy, and the area of a coal-field is but slight 
measure of its value. We can only learn from 
the statement that [judged by their area], our 
English coal-fields are more important than those 
of any European country [except Russia], but that 
the North American coal-fields almost indefinitely 
surpass ours in extent, and, it may be added, in 
contents. 

[Calculations of the coal contents of the coal- 
fields of some of the principal countries have been 
made. In 1893, there were published the results 
of calculations made for the Prussian Govern- 
ment by R. Nasse. At the end of 1904, Herr 
Oskar Simmersbach reviewed the results of deep 
borings in recent years in Germany, and of 
additions to knowledge of mineral resources else- 
where, and the Table on the following page 
shows the relation of the results of these two 
writers to each other. 

From these figures it would appear that the 
relative preponderance of the coal resources of the 
United States is much less than the comparison 
of figures of area suggests. For the most part, 
however, the available contents of the coal-fields 
of the United States can, as yet, be hardly more 
than guessed at. Reference will be made later 



XIV THE WORLD'S COAL RESOURCES 325 



on to the evidence of the abundance and easy 
;:ccessibihty of these resources.^ 

AVAILABLE COAL RESOURCES OF PRINCIPAL 

COUNTRIES 

(Millions of Tons) 





Nasse 1893 2 


Simmersbach 1904 •» 


United States. , . 


684,000 


681,000 


Germany . . 


112,000 


415,300 


United Kingdom . 


198,000 


193,000 


France . . 


18,000 


19,000 


Belgium 


15,000 


20,000 


Austria- Hungary . 


17,000 


17,000 


Russia . . 


— 


40,000 



The Russian coal-fields, though more exten- 
sive than our own, appear to be far inferior in 
contents, whether we consider quantity, quality, 
or accessibility. In Europe, the only country 
whose coal resources are of similar extent to our 
own is Germany. Direct comparison of the 
estimates of the tonnage of available coal in the 
two countries is rendered difficult by the fact that 
the limits of depth to which the estimates apply 
are not the same for both. At depths not exceed- 
'■ Pp. 346-351- 

^ Final Report of Royal Commission on Coal Supplies, part xi, 
p. 34. 

^ Stahl und Risen, 24 Jahrgang, Nr. 23, Dec. ist, 1904. Die 
Steinkohlenvorrdte der Erde, pp. 1347-59. The figures for the 
United Kingdom are based on the Report of the 1871 Commis- 
sion. The Report of the Allerton Commission supplies a figure 
147,000 to be substituted for the 193,000 of the Table. 



326 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

ing i,ooo metres (3,280 feet) the latest investiga- 
tions result in an estimate of some 99,000 ^ million 
tons of coal available in the German Empire. 
Between 1,000 metres and 1,500 metres (4,920 
feet) a further amount of over 64,000 million tons 
is estimated to exist in the proved coal-fields. 
These figures indicate resources in Germany 
which exceed in quantity those of Great Britain.^ 
The very large figures quoted in the Table on 
p. 325 include the estimated contents at all depths, 
not only of the coal-fields proved by working or 
boring, amounting to 280,000 million (metric) 

1 Metric tons. Apparently loss in working has not been allowed 
for. In dealing with such approximate figures, an exact reduction 
to English tons serves no purpose. 

^ Of course, this conclusion depends on the assumption of equal 
reliability for the estimates of the Committees of the Allerton 
Commission and those of the German geologists and mining 
experts whose investigations and arguments serve as the basis of 
the figures set forth above. 

The fact that Jevons could pass lightly over the coal resources 
of Germany, now known to be so important and extensive, may 
serve as a warning against too hasty conclusions regarding mineral 
resources of localities where thorough investigation has not yet 
taken place. The development of German industry during the 
last quarter of a century is a fact of exactly that nature which 
Jevons' whole argument goes to show is to be looked for— one 
might even say, is inevitable — given the fact of large and accessible 
coal deposits. The argument of the remainder of the chapter has 
needed some modification in order to give weight to the additions 
made to knowledge of German coal resources in the last forty, and 
especially within the last ten, years. It is no longer possible to 
proceed on the assumption, reasonably made by Jevons, that the 
United States is the only country whose coal resources are com- 
parable with our own. 



XIV THE WORLD'S COAL RESOURCES 327 

tons, but in assumed extensions of known coal- 
fields. They are, of necessity, hypothetical in a 
very high degree, and especially so in relation to 
the problem of raising coal at a moderate cost.] 

Coal exists more or less in most other parts of 
the world — in India, China, Japan, Labuan, New 
Zealand, Australia, Brazil, Chili, and Central [and 
Southern] Africa. Many details concerning the 
frequent occurrence of coal may be found in R. C. 
Taylor's Statistics of Coal^ but they have in 
reality little bearing upon our inquiry. With the 
exception of [the coal-fields of Germany and] the 
great North American fields, [to which may 
probably be added those of China], none are at all 
capable of competing in quality or extent with 
our coal-fields. They will prove very useful in 
furnishing a supply for local industry and steam 
navigation. Upon and around each coal-field 
will grow up, we hope, a prosperous community, 
enjoying those uses of coal which older nations 
are discovering ; but the only way in which those 
coal-fields could interfere with, and reduce the 
consumption of, our coal would be, either by — 

1. Supplying sea-board coal markets which we 
now supply, or 

2. Supporting a system of manufacturing in- 
dustry capable of competing with ours. 

1 isted., 1848 ; 2nd ed. revised by S. O. Haldeman. 



32 8 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

Now, if the comparatively cumbersome and 
heavy nature of coal be considered, it will be seen 
that the cost of conveyance is a main element. 
A small extent of mountainous country, a con- 
siderable distance from a port, or a position far 
from the general current of trade, removes a coal- 
field from competition. Thus the French Official 
Report regards the difficulty and cost of conveyance 
as the great obstacle in the way of the French 
coal-mines. Otherwise, without being comparable 
with English fields, they are rich enough for home 
consumption.^ "In France the deposits of com- 
bustible mineral are numerous, but there is only 
a small number which are susceptible, either from 
their extension or the quality of their products, of 
development upon a great scale. Most of these 
basins, too, are situated in mountainous countries, 
difficult of access, where lines of communication 
have penetrated but slowly and at great cost. 
This circumstance explains why at present the 
price of coal at market exceeds, in a very high 
proportion, the wholesale price at the pit mouth." 

An English report expresses a similar opinion. 
"At St. Etienne, the heart of the French mining 
district, coal can be extracted as low as in Wales, 
and the expense of it throughout France is 

' Situation de VIndustrie Houillere en 1859, p. g. 



XIV THE WORLD'S COAL RESOURCES 329 

imputed to the absence of easy lines of carriage 
and communication, which enable English coal 
to be sold on the French coast at a profit." ^ 

On the other hand, the favourable natural 
conditions of our mines are thus described by 
the writers of the French Report : — " 

" England is the most favoured country of 
Europe in the extent and richness of its coal- 
fields. Its superiority is confirmed by the varied 
and generally excellent quality of its coal, and 
by a regularity of the strata very favourable to 
the working of coal-mines. 

" Lastly, as if nature had striven to unite in 
these coal-fields all the circumstances most con- 
ducive to mining and trading in coal, the two 
richest basins, those of Wales and Newcastle, are 
intersected by the sea. The coal-owners can 
load and ship their products in the most econo- 
mical manner, and thus consign them to any 
point of the home or continental coasts. 

" Over-sea conveyance, too, is the more cheap, 
because in English commerce the outward voyage 
may be considered as a voyage in ballast, and 
the return freight covers the chief part of the 
expenses. 

1 Report of the South Shields Committee, 1843. 

2 Situation de V Industrie HouilUre en 1859, p. 15. 



330 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

"A like union of favourable conditions does 
not present itself at any other point of the globe, 
and constitutes a natural privilege with which 
no other country can entertain the notion of 
contending as regards industry founded upon the 
working and trading in coal. Any attempt at 
competition of the kind would necessarily be 
followed by defeat." 

Foreign coal-fields, then, are almost wholly 
excluded from competition with ours as regards 
sea-borne coal, because even if there were any 
coal-fields comparable with ours in intrinsic 
natural advantages, there would still be wanting 
the extrinsic advantages of the vast trading 
system and the mercantile marine of England 
capable of conveying and distributing the coal. 
In a great many parts of the world, at Sydney, 
Cape Breton, at Newcastle in Australia, Labuan, 
Chili, Asturias in Spain, and on the coast of the 
Black Sea, there are seams of coal almost abutting 
on the sea, but the set of trade and navigation 
in the wrong direction long enabled, or rather 
obliged, us to carry our coals out to these local 
Newcastles, [and, to some extent, continues to do 
so. J And if coal situated actually on the sea-board 
cannot drive our coal away, the high cost of land 
conveyance completely removes all inland coal- 



XIV THE WORLD'S COAL RESOURCES 331 

fields from direct competition with our mines in 
the general sea-board coal markets of the world. 

That French and continental mines generally 
cannot possibly compete with our coal mines is 
further shown in the remarks of Mr. R. C. 
Taylor : — ^ 

" It is due to the unrivalled accessibility by 
sea to the best coal-basins of England, Scotland, 
and Wales — where coals of many varieties and 
admirable qualities can be shipped at the very 
sites where they are mined — that Great Britain 
has hitherto been able to furnish such enormous 
and cheap supplies, not only to the home con- 
sumers, but nearly to every maritime country in 
Europe. In this respect she is far more favour- 
ably circumstanced than her rival continental 
producers, France, Belgium, Prussia, and Austria, 
whose coal-fields lie remote from the sea-shore. 

"From Dunkirk to Bayonne, an extent of 300 
leagues of coast, there are but two coal-fields, 
and those are at some distance from the sea. In 
regard also to the quality of the coal, France is 
less fortunate than England ; for with the excep- 
tion of the basins of Anzin, St. Etienne, and a 
few others, the collieries of the interior yield but 

1 statistics of Coal, ist ed., p. 275, quoted by the Edinburgh 
Review, vol. xc, p. S34- 



332 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

an inferior species of fuel. Both these circum- 
stances combine to render France, to a certain 
extent, dependent upon Great Britain for the 
better sorts of coal ; and hence the French 
Government annually make large and increasing 
contracts for the delivery of English coal at their 
depots, for the use of their steam marine on 
service. . . . 

" The manner in which the coal-tracts of Great 
Britain are distributed, is fortunately such that 
every coal-field in England and Wales can meet 
the next adjoining coal-field nearly on a radius 
of thirty miles, thus forming such a range of 
deposits, from Scotland to South Wales and 
Somersetshire, that the whole interior of the 
country can be supplied with coals, through the 
railroad system, from several central points." 

So long, then, as the currents of trade and 
navigation continue in their present general 
course, there are no coal-fields capable of compet- 
ing with, and reducing the demand for, our coal 
in regard to the over-sea coal-trade.^ The only 

' The falling off in our exports of coal to India, the Far East, 
and the Atlantic coast of Central and North America, which is 
noted in Mr. D. A. Thomas' valuable paper in the Journal of the 
Royal Statistical Society for Sept., 1903, hardly amounts to so 
marked a contradiction of the statement of the text as to require 
its elision. In the cases of India and Japan, and also in regard to 
the United States, Canada, and Australasia, our exports have fallen 



XIV THE WORLD'S COAL RESOURCES 333 
other way in which a foreign coal-field could affect 
the prosperity of our coal-consuming industry 
would be by nourishing abroad great systems of 

off mainly because local production has increased. In the other 
markets of the Far East and in the West Indies and Central 
America, the nearer supplies from India, Japan, Australia, and the 
United States have certainly had the effect of competing with our 
coal so as to reduce the demand for it. The same is true of the 
Pacific coast of America. In some of these cases the effect is seen 
in a lack of expansiveness in the markets concerned, in others in 
positive reduction in the amount of British coal supplied. 

Mr. Thomas' paper shows that the groups of markets which 
have lagged behind relatively to our entire foreign market are 
those on the Pacific and Indian Oceans (with the exception of the 
West Coast of Africa), to which must be added the Atlantic coast 
of Central and North America. To these markets together, we 
exported 7,500,000 tons of coal in the quinquennium 1860-64, 
12,770,000 in the five years 1880-84, and 10,790,000 in the five 
years 1900-04. The total exports of these periods were respect- 
ively 39, 100, and 220 millions of tons. The relative importance of 
these markets declined from i8 per cent of our entire foreign 
market in 1860-64 to 12-5 per cent in 1880-84, and further to httle 
over 45 per cent in 1900-04 in spite of the exceptional exports to 
North America during the anthracite coal strike in the winter of 
1902-3, and later to the seat of war in the Far East. 

The following Table, the data for which are given in Part XI. of 
the Final Report of the Royal Commission on Coal Supplies, shows 
how little the development of British exports of coal has as yet 
been checked by the development of other sources of supply. 

Net Exports of Coal (Thousands of tons) 





1903 


1878 


United Kingdom . 


63,802 


19.673 


Germany . 


13.307 


3,874 


United States 


4.934 


83 


Japan . 


3.313 


9 


Belgium . . 


2,440 


3.684 


Australia . . • 


2.352 


608 


British India . 


287 


1 Net impi 


South Africa . 


131 



Of 28,000,000 tons exported by practically all the coal-exporting 
countries in 1878, Great Britain supplied 70 per cent. A quarter 



334 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

manufacturing industry capable of withdrawing 
from us a part of the custom of the world, which 
we have enjoyed, as regards coal-made articles, 
almost to the extent of a monopoly. 

If there were plenty of good coal in France, 
such a system of iron and coal industry might 
rise upon it as at any rate to deprive us of the 
custom of French consumers. Strange to say, 
this result has taken place to some extent. The 
good order and enlightened commercial policy of 
the Imperial Government [in the early sixties] had 
such an extraordinary effect upon French industry, 
that the produce of coal from the interior French 
mines advanced at the rate of 67 per cent per 
annum — at nearly double the rate of increase of 
our consumption of coal. The French iron 
manufacture advanced in a manner equally sur- 
prising, so that instances were not uncommon of 
English orders for iron goods being executed in 
France ! And it is no doubt owing to this 

of a century later, the aggregate export had increased to 90,586,000 
tons, but Great Britain still supphed 70 per cent of the aggregate. 
The British figures include bunker coal supplied to foreign-going 
ships, while the foreign figures do not treat bunkers uniformly. 
Nevertheless, the table sufficiently demonstrates the maintenance 
of its place as a coal-exporting nation by this country. It must be 
remembered that, in the case of Germany and the United States, 
export by land accounts for no small part of the entire export of 
coal. Hence the preponderance of British coal in over-sea trade 
is even greater than the figures indicate. 



XIV THE WORLD'S COAL RESOURCES 335 

advance of French industry in a manner parallel 
to our own, that the French treaty of commerce 
had much less remarkable results than was ex- 
pected. Even the imports of coal into France 
remained stationary for a time, as seen in the 
following accounts : — 





Coal raised in 
France 
Tons 


Coal 

imported 

Tons 


Coal consumed 

in France 

Tons 


i860 . 


• 7,900,000 


5,900,000 


13,800,0001 


1862 . 


. 9,400,000 


5,900,000 


15,300,000^ 


[1875 . 


• i6,9S7,ooo 


7,004,000 


23,961,000 


1889 . 


• 23,852,000 


7,798,000 


31,650,000 


1903 . 


. 34,218,000 


12,224,000 


46,442,000] 



[The production has about quadrupled since 
i860, while the net import has little more 
than doubled. The recent discoveries of coal 
in the Department of Meurthe et Moselle may 
well render France, in even a higher degree 
than heretofore, self dependent in the matter 
of coal.]^ 

The natural riches and skill of the French are, 
however, comparatively so much higher in many 
other branches of industry, that it cannot be 

1 Situation de I'hidustrie Houillire, p. 7. 

2 Journal of Science, No. 2, pp. 337, 338. The figures of pro- 
duction given in the Report of the 1871 Commission somewhat 
exceed those quoted above. 

3 The figures for the later dates are taken from the Report of the 
Commission on Coal Supplies, part xi, pp. 52, 58, 60, and represent 
metric tons of 2,204 lbs. 



336 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

supposed the competition of their coal industry can 
proceed far, or prove permanent and formidable. 

The extraction of coal in Belgium, again, [in- 
creased very rapidly up to about 1870, but has 
recently progressed with markedly decreased 
rapidity. The following are the figures of pro- 
duction at intervals of ten years : — ^ 





Metric tons 


Rate of increase per cent 
in ten years 


1830 

1840 


. . 1,913,000 . 
• . 3,590,000 . 


88 


1850 
i860 


S,779,ooo . 
9,607,000 . 


61 
66 


1870 


■ 13,458,000 . 


40 


1880 


16,403,000 . 


. . 22 


1890 


19,971,000 . 


22 


1900 


22,531,000- 


13 



In recent years new deposits have been dis- 
covered in the North, in the La Campine district. 
The contents of this new coal-field have been 
estimated at 13,000 million tons. The newest 
borings, however, show that it is not everywhere 
as rich as was hoped, and this figure may prove 
to be too high. The deposits lie under the mouth 
of the Scheldt, and hence possess very great im- 
portance for Belgian trade. Apart from this new 

1 The figures are from The Mineral Industry, Vol. II, p. 220, 
and official reports. Those for 1840 and subsequent years are the 
averages of triennial periods 1839-41, 1849-51, etc. They are 
given in this form so as to represent the course of progress better 
than can be done by figures for single years. 



XIV THE WORLD'S COAL RESOURCES 337 

coal-field,] the Belgian coal-proprietors are afraid 
that the produce of their mines has nearly 
reached its maximum. The fact is that the 
Belgian mines have been worked longer than our 
Newcastle mines, and have reached still greater 
depths. They are further advanced towards ex- 
haustion than our own ; and as their produce is 
but one-tenth part of our coal-produce, it would 
be absurd to suppose that they can support any 
industry capable of seriously competing with ours. 
Germany, by the somewhat inland position of 
its coal-fields, as well as for other reasons, is 
[seriously handicapped in relation to the maritime 
coal-trade of the world, though the extent of its 
resources in coal has enabled a rapid and formid- 
able development to be effected in industries 
dependent on coal. Its resources have already 
been referred to,^] and no other European country 
has coal mines worth consideration here. 

^ Pp. 325-6. The production of coal in Germany and Luxemburg 
has been as follows :- 







Rate of increase 


Coal and 


Rate of increase 




Coal 


per cent in 


ten 


lignite 


per cent in ten 




Thousands of 


years, or as 


for 


Thousands of 


years, or as for 




metric tons 


ten years 




metric tons 


ten years 


1830 


5,184 


— 




(1848) 5,801 


— 


i860 


12,384 


138 




16,730 


142 


1870 


27.51S 


123 




35.401 


112 


1880 


45.896 


67 




58,043 


64 


1890 


70.395 


53 




89,505 


S4 


1900 


106,468 


52 




146,087 


63 


1904 


120,694 


37 




169,194 


44 



The data for coal are taken from Herr Simmersbach's article in 
Stahl und Eisen except for 1904. Those for coal and lignite from 



338 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

When we turn to North America we meet once 
more a country capable of comparing in coal re- 
sources with our own. [The vast extent of its 
coal deposits, and the ease with which they yield 
their mineral wealth, afford the most favourable 
conditions for the growth of coal-consuming in- 
dustries,] and the future of England greatly de- 
pends, therefore, upon the future of America. The 
areas of American and British coal-fields have 
already been compared, and show that the 
American fields exceed ours in the proportion of 
nearly 30 to i.^ 

There is reason to suppose that the carboni- 
ferous formation was originally spread in one 
continuous sheet over the whole of Central 
North America, from the flanks of the Rocky 
Mountains to the shores of the Atlantic, and from 
the Gulf of Mexico to Newfoundland. Large 
portions must have been removed by denudation, 
[and the following is a summary of the estimated 
remaining areas in the chief basins, as stated in 



Mineral Resources of the United States for \<yii. The figures for 
1900 and earlier decennial dates are triennial averages. For years 
earlier than 1880, figures do not cover Alsace-Lorraine. 

' In vol. i. of The Mineral Industry, it is stated that considera- 
tions of thinness of seams, and their quality and depth, render it 
" not likely that over one-sixth of the whole" area covered by coal 
formations " is available " (see art. Coal and Coke, p. 74). 



XIV THE WORLD'S COAL RESOURCES 339 

the reports of the Geological Survey, together 
with the output in 1903 : — ^ 



Anthracite . . . 

Bituminous. 

1. Triassic field 

2. Appalachian 

3. Northern . 

4. Central 

5. Western . . 

6. Rocky Mountains . 

7. Pacific Coast . . . 



Area 
Sq. m. 

500 66,678,392 



Output, 1903 
Tons (2,240 lbs.) 



1,070 . 
70,807 . 
11,300 . 
58,000 . 
94,076 . 
100,110 . 
1,050 . 



Total production . 



31,601 

165,714,429 

1,221,088 

46,545,407 

20,689,01 1 

15,161,660 

3,026,640 

319,068,228 



These areas do not include any estimate for 
the coal-fields of Alaska, where the coal at 
present known is of poor quality and difficult 
to mine. It is to be noted that more than one- 
third of the entire bituminous output, as well 
as practically the whole anthracite production 
of the United States, is derived from the 
mines of Pennsylvania. The coal areas of 
that State are: — 484 sq. m. anthracite, 12,200 
sq. m. bituminous. They are thus equal to the 

' The figures of output are from the Mineral Resources of the 
United States for 1903, pp. 354-5, where the amounts are stated in 
short tons of 2,000 lbs. The colliery consumption is included. 

The 22nd Annual Report of the United States Geological Survey, 
part iii, contains a detailed account of the coal-fields of the United 
States, from which the material for the changes in and additions 
to Jevons' original statement has been derived. 

Z 2 



340 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

entire coal area of Great Britain. The Pennsyl- 
vanian deposits form part of the Appalachian coal- 
field, which extends from the State of New York 
on the north to the State of Alabama on the 
south, having a length north-east and south-west 
of over 900 miles and a width ranging from 20 to 
180 miles, and is, of all the coal-fields of the 
United States, that which has] the highest econo- 
mic importance. On the eastward it has been 
crumpled up into the series of ranges forming the 
Allegheny Mountains. At the same time the 
bituminous portion of the coal has been more or 
less distilled off, producing the anthracite coal of 
Mauch Chunk and the other Eastern Pennsyl- 
vanian mines. The seams of coal, however, re- 
tain their bituminous character and their hori- 
zontal position on the west of the Allegheny 
Mountains. "In that less elevated country, the 
coal-measures are intersected by three great 
navigable rivers, and are capable of supplying 
for ages, to the inhabitants of a densely-peopled 
region, an inexhaustible supply of fuel. These 
rivers are the Monongahela, the Allegheny, and 
the Ohio, all of which lay open on their banks 
the level seams of coal. Looking down the first 
of these at Brownsville, we have a fine view of 
the main seam of bituminous coal ten feet thick, 



XIV THE WORLD'S COAL RESOURCES 341 

commonly called the Pittsburg seam, breaking 
out in the steep cliff at the water's edge. . . . 
The same seam is seen at a distance, on the right 
bank, and may be followed the whole way to 
Pittsburg, fifty miles distant. As it is nearly 
horizontal while the river descends, it crops out 
at a continually increasing, but never at an in- 
convenient, height above the Monongahela. 
Below the great bed of coal at Brownsville is a 
fire-clay eighteen inches thick ; and below this, 
several beds of limestone, below which again are 
other coal seams." ^ 

[The Pittsburg coal " is the most uniform in 
quality and thickness and, for a given area, the 
most valuable coal-bed in the bituminous coal- 
field of Pennsylvania. ... It occupies an area in 
this State about 50 miles in length by 50 miles in 
breadth, with an average thickness of presumably 
about six feet. On this basis it is estimated 
that the Pittsburg coal-bed originally contained 
more than 10,000,000,000 tons of available coal, 
and even after sixty years of mining it is prob- 
able that the available coal is not reduced below 
that figure."^ " It is a notable fact, well illustrat- 

1 Lyell, Manual of Elementary Geology, 1852, p. 333. 

2 ■2.^nd Annual Report of the U.S. Geological Survey, part iii., 
1900-1, p. 175- 



342 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

ing both the relatively recent date of development 
and the extent of the coal resources of the State, 
that shafting or deep sloping has as yet been 
adopted at but few points in all the bituminous 
area, and that even in pursuit of the most valu- 
able beds mining has not yet been carried beyond 
a shaft depth of 630 feet. . . . There are no 
' deep ' mines in the bituminous basins. . . . All 
but a smalU percentage of the bituminous coal- 
mines in Pennsylvania are worked by drift on the 
out-crop or by^ gentle slope down the dip of the 
bed." ^ Of the total production of bituminous coal 
in the State, about three-fifths are supplied by 
the Pittsburg bed.] ^ 

We have no extensive seams of coal now which 
can compare in ease of working with those above 
described. The " thick coal " of Staffordshire 
almost within the memory of [the parents of] those 
now living might be comparable, and four or five 
centuries ago it is supposed there were seams on 
the bank of the Tyne, and at Whitehaven, which 
could be worked by natural drainage, and with 
the greatest ease. But shallow coal has neces- 
sarily almost disappeared in England. The 
consequence is that we cannot now produce coal, 

' ^^nd Annual Report of the U.S. Geological Survey, part iii, 
pp. I94-S- ^ Ibid., p. 197. 



XIV THE WORLD'S COAL RESOURCES 343 

even with the aid of the best engineering skill, 
and of abundant trained labour, nearly so cheap 
as it can be had on the banks of the Ohio. At 
Pittsburg the best bituminous coal may be had 
at one-half, or one-third, the general price at 
European mines, as shown in the following com- 
parative table of prices at the pit : — 









Average '-^ 






Ca. 1861 i 


igoi 




s. 


d. ,-. d. 


0. d. 


France . 


6 


to 14 


■ 12 7i 


Germany 


7 


„ 10 


■ 9 4i 


England 


6 


„ 10 


• 9 4? 


Pennsylvania (anthracite) . 


8 


„ 9 


• 8 4l 


Pittsburg (bituminous) . . 


2 


„ 40. 


2S. od. to 4 



Beyond the reach of doubt there is no portion 
of the earth's surface so naturally fitted for be- 
coming the seat of great industries. " What is 
the value, it may be asked," in the words of an 

' Overman, On the Manufacture of Iron, p. 102. 

2 Coal Tables, 1902. The cost of mining Pennsylvania anthra- 
cite is about $1.50 per ton, to which must be added taxes and a 
royalty of 40 to 50 cents for the prepared sizes, and 10 to \i\ cents 
for small coal {22nd Annual Report of the U.S. Geological Survey, 
pp. 96-100). The cost of actual mining of bituminous coal in 
Pennsylvania is 40 to 60 cents per ton, running up to 80 or 85 
cents in some localities (pp. 199, 200). The Connelsville coal costs 
only 35 cents per ton to mine. For mining, cleaning, and plac- 
ing f.o.b. the total cost in the Pittsburg region is stated at from 
47i cents to a dollar. The average value at the pit of all United 
States coal is given in the Coal Tables as 5^-. (i\d. It should be 
remembered that the price of coal in European countries in 1901 
was very much above the normal level, while in the United States 
coal prices were not very much higher than for several years 
previous. See also note at end of chapter v. 



344 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

American writer/ " of 63,000 square miles of 
country, which yields coal, iron, oil, and salt, 
beneath its fertile soil ? Here are the elements of 
strength, heat, light, food, and the giant steam, 
opened at once to the science, skill, and untiring 
energy of an enterprising people." 

It can excite no surprise that a people of 
British extraction, endowed with the absolute 
possession of lands so rich, so extensive, and so 
easily accessible as those of the United States, 
should spread and multiply. It is nature in its 
kindest and most liberal mood that has chiefly 
contributed to the growth of the United States. 
And a certain remarkable talent for the appli- 
cation and invention of all practical devices for 
saving labour and overcoming obstacles is the 
next chief attribute of the American nation that 
concerns us here. The moral and political charac- 
teristics of that people, and the influence they 
may exert for good or for evil upon the world, 
are not here in question. 

But why did not such wonderful wealth in coal 
affect our prosperity long since, if so much 
depends upon the price of coal ? It is because 
America did not for a long period reach that 

1 Gesner, Practical Treatise on Coal, Petroleum, etc., New 
York, 1 86 1, p. 30. 



XIV THE WORLD'S COAL RESOURCES 345 

state of industrial development in which a great 
system of manufactures naturally grows up. 
Great as was the wealth of coal, the wealth of 
land, comparatively to European countries, was 
greater still ; and agriculture had, as it should 
have had, the natural preference over manufac- 
tures. Nor had America long emerged from 
that earlier stage of the iron manufacture in 
which timber is the best fuel. Coal -smelting 
furnaces in the United States have not existed 
more than seventy years.^ And the future rela- 
tion of American coal to English industry cannot 
be better indicated than by the words of the very 
able Report of the South Shields Committee on 
Coal Mines, in the year 1843. 

"It is not the want of coal, but of capital and 
of labour, that allows the more cheaply wrought 
British mineral to seal up the American mines. 
It is within the range of possibility to reverse it. 

" When the expense of working British coal 
mines leaves no remuneration to the capital and 
labour employed, when brought into competition 
with the mines of other countries, then will they 

1 Coal was first successfully used in blast-furnace practice in the 
U.S. in 1838. In 1855 anthracite coal became more important 
than charcoal, and remained the chief blast-furnace fuel till, in 
1875, coke superseded it as the most important {Bulletin of the 
Department of Labour, May, 1903, p. 446). 



346 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

be as effectually lost to Britain for purposes of 
ascendency, and their produce as exports, as if 
no longer in physical existence ; and her supe- 
riority in the mechanical arts and manufactures, 
ccsteris paribus, it may well be feared, will be 
superseded." 

[Even in America, however, there are not want- 
ing the signs of approaching exhaustion, which 
our own fields have manifested for a considerable 
time. In the anthracite field, in particular, fears 
are expressed that the maximum production has 
nearly been reached.^ The Lackawanna region 
is expected to be the first to become exhausted. 
The Lehigh region, it is thought by some, has 
already passed its maximum production. " The 
mines in the Wyoming field, which were the most 
accessible, are being rapidly worked out, and 
the great reserve is in the Southern or Schuyl- 
kill field. In this field the coal lies deeper, and 
is much more expensive to mine. ... In the future 

1 Mr. Harris, late President of the Reading Railroad Company, 
in giving evidence before the U.S. Industrial Commission, ex- 
pressed a doubt whether the anthracite output would ever reach 
60 million tons a year {Report of the Industrial Commission, 
vol. ix, p. 605). This was in 1900, and repeated an estimate of 
1896 by Mr. William Griffith. In 1901 the output just exceeded 
60,000,000 long tons, and in 1903 and 1904 it reached 66,613,454 
and 65,318,490 tons respectively {Statistical Abstract of the United 
States, 1905, p. 492). 



XIV THE WORLD'S COAL RESOURCES 347 

the more difficult mines will have to be worked. 
The improvements in methods of mining and 
handling coal do not keep pace with the added 
difficulties arising from the necessity of mining 
deeper and less satisfactory seams. The price 
of coal will necessarily advance hereafter, it is 
maintained, if it is to be mined profitably at all, 
although the advance will be slow."^ 

The region in which anthracite is mined has 
been so thoroughly explored that estimates of its 
available coal resources are entitled to respect. 
The original contents, calculated at 1,900 tons to 
the foot-acre, amount to an estimated total of 
19.507=872,325 tons.^ 

If the marketable coal be taken at 40 per 
cent of the coal in the seams,^ the resources 
available for the market were originally some 
7,800,000,000 tons. To the end of 1901 the 
production had amounted in the aggregate to 
1,350,000,000 tons, leaving available 6,450,000,000 
tons, or supplies for about a century at the pre- 
sent rate of production. Mr. William Griffith, 

1 Report of the Industrial Commission, vol. ix. Review of 
Evidence, pp. xxxiii-iv. 

2 Report by Mr. A. D. Smith, Pennsylvania Geological Survey, 
189s, Summary of Final Report, Vol. 3, part i, p. 21 51. 

3 Vide Report of the Anthracite Coal Comjnission, Bulletin of 
the Department of Labour, May, 1903, p. 447. 



348 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

in a series of articles in the Bond Record in 
1896, gave an estimate some 25 per cent less than 
the foregoing. 

The resources of the bituminous coal areas of 
the United States cannot be stated in such 
definite terms as those of the anthracite fields. 
The area underlain by coal affords but little 
indication of the amount of coal available for use. 
The resources of the Pennsylvania bituminous 
coal-fields have been estimated at 33,547,200,000 
tons,^ which would make them, relatively to their 
area, greatly inferior to the British fields in pro- 
ductivity. Nasse's estimate of the aggregate 
contents of the American coal-fields has already 
been given.^ The Geological Survey's Report 
affords some further valuable indications of the 
wealth of mineral concealed in various parts of 
the country. Of the Eastern Interior Coal-field, 
which covers most of Illinois, the south-west 
corner of Indiana, and a small portion of western 
Kentucky, it is stated that " in Indiana, coal 
has been found at 20 horizons at least, as many 
as 17 beds having been struck in a single 
drilling within a vertical distance of 800 feet. It 
is probable that the number of beds in Illinois is 

1 Mineral Resources of the U.S., 1886, p. 317. This estimate 
was made in 1881 by Dr. H. M. Chance. ^ p ^25. 



XIV THE WORLD'S COAL RESOURCES 349 

fully as great as in Indiana. Most of these are 
thin, but beds sufficiently thick to be workable 
occur at eight horizons at least, though, as a rule, 
not more than three beds are workable at any 
one point, and usually not more than one, while 
large areas, amounting to a considerable percent- 
age of the field, are not underlain by workable 
coal." ^ As to the quality of the coals in this field, 
they are "inferior in heating value to eastern 
coals," though some of them do " not fall far be- 
hind the best eastern coals, and are superior to 
some of the latter, while they are probably as 
good as, or better than, most of the coals from 
the fields farther west."^ . . . "The eastern 
coals being usually the better, the line separating 
the two market areas runs nearer the Interior 
than the Eastern field. . . . The better coal 
from the Appalachian field practically controls the 
market along the Ohio and the Mississippi rivers, 
except for screenings for steam purposes." ^ 

In the Western Interior Coal-field, covering 
parts of Iowa, Missouri, and Kansas, the deposits 
are patchy and irregular. "In some pockets coal 
70 feet thick has been found, but its extent is 
very limited." * It is usual to find that about 

1 22zz^ Annual Report of the U.S. Geological Survey, part iii, 

p. 275- 

2 Ibid., p. 294. ^ Ibid., p. 297. * Ibid., p. 344. 



350 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

one-third of the land sought to be developed is, 
" by reason of thin coal or no coal, not worth 
further expenditure." ^ 

Of the total area of the Rocky Mountain coal- 
field, more than one-half (56,500 sq. m.) covers 
lignite deposits. For Colorado, " a conservative 
estimate places the workable area at about 50 per 
cent of the total area (18,100 sq. m.) . . . . 
occupied by the coal-bearing formations, and the 
available coal is estimated at 33,897,800,000 
tons." ^ Whether this figure is arrived at after 
making necessary deductions for coal which can- 
not be brought to the surface, though in seams 
of such thickness and satisfactory quality as to 
be included among the deposits available for 
working, is not quite clear. Of the Puget Sound 
district, it is reported that, " in the Green River 
field, three coal seams are being mined ... 3 to 
6 feet in thickness, at depths varying from 1,000 
to 2,800 feet. ... At Renton, three productive 
seams are known, the lowest y^ feet. No. 2 about 
8 feet thick. . . . Six miles south-east, two 
seams, 13 feet and 3^ feet thick, have been 
found. In the Newcastle area there are four 
productive seams, from 4 to 12 feet thick, which 
have been worked to a depth of 2,000 feet. At 

' litd, p. 351. 2 /^j-^.^ p. ^22. 



XIV THE WORLD'S COAL RESOURCES 351 

Issaquah, six beds, 45- to I5|- feet in thickness,"^ 
have been reached. 

Such are some of the indications of the extent 
and wide distribution of the coal resources of the 
United States. Of some of the bituminous areas, 
as well as of the Pennsylvania anthracite field, it 
can be said that, as with ourselves, the best of 
the coal has already been worked. An example 
is the Georges Creek district of Maryland, the 
reputation of which was largely based on the 
Cumberland coal of the Big or 14-feet bed, a 
high-grade steam coal. "The Big bed is al- 
most exhausted in the lower Georges Creek 
district." ^ 

For the present there is no doubt that, in 
extent and availability, the coal resources of the 
United States are far greater than those of Great 
Britain, no very surprising fact in view of the 
enormously greater area of territory involved. 
Further investigation may reveal resources 
capable of supporting the rapid development of 
recent years for a future of indefinite extent. On 
the other hand, the possibility presents itself that 
the duration of the period, when the existing 
advantages in cheap coal supplies enjoyed by 
the United States relatively to European coun- 

' Ibid., pp. 487-9. ^ Ibid., p. 213. 



352 



THE COAL QUESTION chap. 





Ran 


of increase percent 




in 


ten years, or as for 


Tons (2,240 lbs.) 




ten years 


1,312,000 




— 


3,091,000 . 




. 136 


5,683,000 . 




. 84 


14,963,000 . 




163 


34,172,000 




. 128 


66,674,000 . 




■ 95 


139,157,000 . 




109 


243,072,000 . 




• 75 


314,283,000 . 


. 


• 90 



tries can be maintained, may be comparatively 
brief, as time counts in the life of a nation. 

The course of the rapid increase in output of 
coal in the United States is shown in the follow- 
ing table : — ^ 

1830 
1840 
1850 
i860 
1870 
1880 
1890 
1900 
1904 

In the matter of the competition of the United 
States in the coal-export trade of the world, it 
must be remarked that the great advantages 
offered by the wide distribution of her coal de- 
posits, when industrial development is concerned, 
are hardly matched by the advantages of situation 
of her coal-fields in relation to export trade. None 
of the important deposits of coal is situated on, or 
close to, the sea, and cheaply as the mineral can be 
mined, the cost of conveyance to seaports offsets 
a very large part of the advantage over other 

' The figures for the years to i860 are from Mr. Brough's Report 
to the Royal Commission on Coal Supplies {Final Report, part xi, 
p. 41). The remaining decennial figures are averages of three 
consecutive years, and are from the tables in Mineral Resources of 
the United States for 1902. 



XIV THE WORLD'S COAL RESOURCES 353 

countries which seems to be shown by the table 
of comparative values at the pit's mouth.^ 

The great Eastern American coal-fields are 
continued into New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, 
and Newfoundland, where some part of these 
extensions are of considerable present, and of 
still greater prospective, importance. Of Canada's 
resources the following official summary affords a 
brief account.^ 

" The coal areas of Canada are estimated at 
97,200 square miles, not including areas known, 
but as yet undeveloped, in the far north. . . . 

" The coal areas of Nova Scotia cover about 
635 square miles. They are divided into the 
Cape Breton, the Pictou, and the Cumberland 
basins. New Brunswick contains, so far as 
known, no seams of sufficient magnitude to be 
worked successfully in competition with the 
Cumberland mines. The workable thickness of 
the coal is very great, in Cape Breton a total of 
25 to 60 feet, in Pictou at least 70 feet, and in 

1 The coal of the Georges Creek district cost but 67^ cents to a 
dollar to place f. o. b. at the mines in 1900, and sold, in the early 
part of that year, previous to the strike, at |ro5 per ton. The rail 
freight to Baltimore and Philadelphia was $r45 in 1900, and the 
rate by water was f i'i8 to Baltimore, and $i'25 to Philadelphia. 
A large percentage of this coal is devoted to marine purposes 
{22nd Annual Report of the Geological Survey, part iii, pp. 213-4). 

2 Statistical Year Book of Canada, 1903, p. 183. 

A A 



354 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

Cumberland at least 30 feet. If the workable 
area is reduced one-quarter, say, from 407,400 
acres to 300,000 acres, and the average thickness 
of the workable area put at 25 feet, on the basis 
of 1,000 tons of coal an acre for every foot of 
coal, the amount of coal in the measures of Nova 
Scotia is 7,000,000,000 tons. 

"There are no coal measures from New Bruns- 
wick westward until the province of Manitoba is 
reached. The coal areas of Manitoba are roughly 
estimated at 15,000 square miles. They yield 
lignites only. . . . The area, extending along 
the base of the Rocky Mountains, from the 
international boundary to the vicinity of the 
Peace River — a distance of 500 miles — underlain 
by coal measures, is 50,000 square miles. 

" The third coal area is that in the Rocky 
Mountains. Though small, as measured by 
miles, it contains much coal of the best quality. 
The small coal area of the Crow's Nest Pass is 
very rich.^ Several seams of anthracite of ex- 
cellent quality have been found. Those in the 
Cascades basin have an area of 60 square 
miles. 



' Its contents have been estimated at 22,000,000,000 tons. Final 
Report of the Royal Commission on Coal Supplies^ part xi, p. 39. 



XIV THE WORLD'S COAL RESOURCES 355 

"The fourth area is that of the Pacific Coast. 
Dr. George M. Dawson gives the following 
estimate of its extent : — 

Sq. miles 

Nanaimo coal basin (approximately correct) . 200 

Comox coal basin (rough approximation) .... 700 

Queen Charlotte's Island (very rough approxi- 
mation) .... . , ... 800 
Tertiary lignite-bearing rocks in different parts ~i 

of British Columbia south of the 54° parallel >■ 12,000 
of latitude (very rough approximation) . . / 

" Anthracite in 3-feet and 6-feet seams, com- 
paring favourably with that from Pennsylvania, 
has been found in Queen Charlotte's Island." 

A point of great importance in connection with 
the coal areas of Canada is the fact that, both in 
Cape Breton and in Vancouver Island, they are 
placed very favourably for the shipment of their 
product. Of Nova Scotia, it is stated in the 
official Year Book^ that "in the same province 
the iron-ore, the coal and the flux lie in close 
contiguity to each other, and are within a com- 
paratively short distance from fine ship harbours, 
making that province one of the best regions in 
the world for the seat of iron and steel ship- 
building on a large scale." The progress of 

^ statistical Year Book of Canada, 1903, p. 194. The abundance 
of iron ore in Nova Scotia is a contested question, however. 

A A 2 



356 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

Canada's coal production is shown in the 
following : — 





Output 
Tons (2,240 lbs.) 


Rate of increase per cent 

in ten years, or as for 

ten years 


1870 


656,000 




— 


1880 . 


1,324,000 




102 


1890 . . 


2,754,000 




. 108 


1900 . 


. . 5,008,000 




82 


1904 


. 6,705,000 . 




107 



In New South Wales we again encounter coal 
deposits of large extent, and conveniently placed 
as regards the shipment of the product to any 
part of the world. The importance of these 
deposits to the British Empire, as well as the 
possibility of building up on them an industry 
and an export trade which may become serious 
competitors with those of Great Britain, justify 
the insertion here of the following account of 
their resources.^ 

" Some years ago the late Mr. C. S. Wilkinson 
estimated that, within a depth of 4,000 feet from 
the surface, the New South Wales coal seams, of 
a thickness exceeding 2^ feet, are capable of pro- 



1 V. The Mineral Resources of New South IVales, by Edward F. 
Pittman, Government Geologist, 1901, pp. 321-22, from which the 
above is abbreviated. Of the other Austrahan States, Queensland 
possesses coal resources estimated at 83,310,000,000 tons, and 
those of Victoria are estimated at 33,388,000,000 tons, while smaller 
amounts are known to exist in Tasmania and in West Australia, 
cf. TAe Colliery Guardian May g, 1902, p. 996. 



XIV THE WORLD'S COAL RESOURCES 357 

ducing 78,198 million tons of coal, allowing one- 
fifth for loss in working. Subsequently, in 1890, 
Professor David estimated that the unworked 
areas of the Palseozoic Coal-fields of New South 
Wales contained between 130,000 and 150,000 
million tons, assuming 4,000 feet to be the limit 
down to which coal can be profitably worked, and 
not taking into consideration seams of less than 
3 feet in thickness. 

" Now, there is a little more known, but much 
is unexplored, and great uncertainty remains. For 
the purposes of an approximate estimate, however, 
we may assume that the Palaeozoic Coal-fields 
underlain by coal within 4,000 feet of depth cover 
an area of 16,550 square miles. In the most 
productive areas the coal varies from 20 to 40, 
50 and 60 feet of workable coal. 

" It is best to base the calculation upon the 
assumption that a thickness of only 10 feet of 
workable coal underlies an area of 16,550 square 
miles. Taking 84 pounds as the weight of a 
cubic foot of coal, and deducting one-third of 
the gross weight for loss in working, impurities, 
etc., this would represent a total quantity of 
115,346,880,000 tons of available fuel." 

The value per ton of the output at the pit's 
mouth fell from an average of nearly 12s. in 



358 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

1877-79 to about 55. dd. twenty years later, and 
rose again substantially in 1900 and 1901. The 
average f. o. b. value of exported coal fell from 
14^. per ton in 1877-78 to about 75. twenty years 
later, the output having trebled in the meantime. 
Australian coal competes with British in most 
parts of the Pacific Ocean, as already noted.^ 
The output of New South Wales has increased 



as follows : — 










Output 
Tons (2,240 lbs.) 


Rate ot 
in ten 


increase per cent 
years, or as for 
ten years 


i860 


369,000 




— 


1870 


869,000 




136 


1880 


1,466,000 . 




69 


1890 . 


. 3,061,000 




109 


1900 . . 


. - 5,507,000 




80 


1903 . . 


■ . 6,355,000 




61 



The position of the New South Wales coal- 
field on the sea-coast, round the port of Sydney, 
and extending even under the harbour of Sydney 
itself, gives these deposits a special importance in 
connection with the question under examination. 

The coal-fields of Japan have been of rapidly 
increasing importance in recent years. The more 
important coal-fields exceed 4,000 square miles in 
area, and if to this be added the area of the coal- 
fields which have not been investigated, a total 
area of 5,000 square miles may be taken as a fair 

^ Chap. xiii. 



XIV THE WORLD'S COAL RESOURCES 359 

estimate. What is known of these deposits 
indicates that the average thickness of the coal 
may be taken at 15 feet.'' These figures 
indicate an available supply of 48,000,000 
foot-acres. If the yield of a foot-acre be 
taken at 1,000 tons, the supply is estimated at 
48,000,000,000 tons. The geographical con- 
figuration of Japan gives particular importance 
to its resources in view of the nearness of the 
coal-fields to the sea, while the recent industrial 
development of the nation gives point to an 
inquiry as to the coal resources available to 
support the growing industries. The production 
has grown as follows : — 





Output 
Tons (2, 240 lbs.) 


Rate of increase per cent 
in ten years 


I88I . . 


925,000 


— 


I89I 


. . 3>i7S!000 . 


... 243 


I90I . . 


8,802,000 . 


... 177 



It is hardly necessary to examine in detail 
the available resources, so far as known, of the 
numerous countries which contribute in a minor 
degree to the world's supply of coal.^ In some 
cases the resources are known to be of small 
extent, inadequate even for the supply of local 

1 V. Report by Mr. Bennett H. Brough prepared for the Royal 
Co7nmission on Coal Supplies. Final Report, part xi, p. 42. 

^ An excellent resumd of information on this subject is contained 
in the Report, already cited, of Mr. Bennett H. Brough. 



36o THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

needs. In other cases, the estimates which are 
available as to the extent of coal deposits are 
not based on such careful and thorough ex- 
amination as to afford a satisfactory basis for 
argument based on these estimates. It might be 
said that this is true, in large degree, of the esti- 
mates current as to the coal resources of such 
regions as North America, Australia, and Japan. 
The figures which have been cited serve, in the 
main, rather as indications as to whether or not 
the countries to which they refer are sufficiently 
amply endowed with accessible coal to render 
their competition as sellers of coal, or of goods 
in the production of which coal is an all- 
important factor, threatening to the future of 
our own land, so far as that future depends on 
development along the lines of industry which 
have been characteristic of our country for over 
a century past. 

Three countries appear to stand out from the 
rest in respect of the coal resources with which 
they are credited, namely. North America, Ger- 
many, and China. The least developed at the 
present moment is China, and the reports which 
are made from time to time of coal deposits 
in various parts of the Chinese territory cer- 
tainly do not lack in sensational features. It 



XIV THE WORLD'S COAL RESOURCES 361 

is admitted that foreigners are not readily per- 
mitted to gain thorough information as to the 
extent and richness of Chinese coal-fields, and 
it may be that the wonderful riches that are 
reported illustrate the saying, Omne ignotum 
pro magnifico. 

The coal-fields of Pechili and Shansi have 
been recently described by Mr. Noah F. Drake,^ 
who gives an estimate of their resources based 
on an area 500 miles long and 50 miles broad, 
with 23 feet of average thickness. Deducting one- 
half for denudation, this gives 350,000,000,000 
tons. Another writer says, " all the world's 
coal-fields appear to be surpassed by the Shansi 
coal-fields. Over an area of 13,500 square 
miles there are several almost horizontal seams 
of anthracite, including a persistent main seam 6 
to 9 yards in thickness."^ "The Tai'tsan coal 
basin is a marvellous feature. It is considered, 
indeed, to be the most extensive and the most 
favourably situated coal basin in the world. 
The veins are horizontal and run to a thick- 
ness of 16 feet 8 inches. It is estimated that 
the basin contains 630,000,000,000 tons of 

^ " The Coal-fields of North-Eastern China " in Transactions of 
the American Institute of Mining Engineers, Vol. xxxi, pp. 492-512. 

2 Report of Mr. Bennett H. Brough to Royal Commission on 
Coal Supplies. Final Report, part xi, p. 42. 



362 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

anthracite. ... To the west of the province 
are more coal-beds nearly as extensive and 
favourably circumstanced. There is even a 
third basin, . . . which runs in a N.N.W. 
direction, may be followed for sixty miles, 
and its vein of coal has a thickness of 20 feet. 
At present coal is selling in the neighbourhood 
at i^. 4d. to IS. 6d. per ton, and even ()d. or 
3^^. per ton is sometimes not refused." ^ 

When coal-fields of such phenomenal richness 
are actively developed, countries in which there 
no longer remain any large supplies of easily 
and cheaply m^ined coal are likely to feel the 
effect of the resulting severe competition. It 
may be that the development will not come 
soon. Yet the longer it is delayed, the further 
towards exhaustion will the cheaper coals of 
other lands have progressed. " Taking into 
consideration the present coal production, Freeh, 
in 1900, expressed the opinion that in 100 to 
200 years the coal-fields of Central France, 
Central Bohemia, the Kingdom of Saxony, the 
Prussian province of Saxony, and the North of 
England would be exhausted ; in 250 years the 
other British coal-fields, the Waldenburg- 
Schatzlar coal-field, and that of the North of 

^ Engineering, April 28th, 1905, p. 543. 



XIV THE WORLD'S COAL RESOURCES 363 

France ; in 600 to 800 years the coal-fields of 
Saarbriicken, Belgium, Aachen, and West- 
phalia ; and in more than i ,000 years the coal- 
fields of Upper Silesia." ^ The discussion of 
the additions made to the knowledge of German 
coal resources within the last ten years leads 
Herr Simmersbach to the conclusion that " if 
we compare the coal resources of European 
countries with one another, Germany owns a 
more abundant store of this valuable commodity 
than all Europe besides. . . . Through the great 
thickness of the coal measures and the number 
of the seams of its Eastern and Western coal 
regions, Germany finds itself in a position, not only 
to supply the needs of neighbouring countries, 
which must depend — and in the future in a 
greater degree than now — on German coal, but, 
after the exhaustion of the fields of Durham 
and Northumberland in 200 years, to make 
good the deficiency in the English export and, 
150 years later, after the anticipated working 
out of the coal-fields of central England, to 
step into the inheritance of the entire British 
export trade. The power of Germany will 
then be by so much the more increased as, 
on the exhaustion of her coal reserves, the 

1 Report of Mr. B. H. Brough, p. 34. 



364 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

ascendancy of Britain on the ocean seems 
threatened, since none of her colonies possess 
stores of coal answering to the need." ^ 

The author cited may set too high a value 
on the deposits at great depths in the German 
coal-fields, and appears to somewhat underrate 
the resources of the British Empire in the final 
sentence quoted, but his statements serve to 
emphasise the undoubted fact, that, in the 
matter of available coal resources, capable of 
supplying cheap fuel in vast quantities. Great 
Britain no longer enjoys the solitary pre-eminence 
which once was her lot. America and Germany 
in the present, perhaps China in the future, 
control resources which can rival, and for some 
purposes surpass, what remains to us of the 
endowment so generously bestowed by nature 
on this island.] 



[It will be convenient to bring together for comparative 
purposes the records of the growth of coal production in 
the chief commercial countries of the world for the last 
forty years. This is done in the following tables, the 
first of which states the average output of coal in 
successive quinquennial periods, whilst the second shows 

1 Die Steinkohlenvorrdte der Erde. Stahl unci Eisen^ 1904, 
P- i>359- 



XIV THE WORLD'S COAL RESOURCES 365 

the average percentage rates of growth in the intervals 
between these periods ^ (cf. Plate II, facing p. viii). 



Period of 
years 


Average yearly production of coal 
Millions of tons {2,240 lbs.) 


Middle 
year of 
period 


United 
States 


German 
Empire 


France 


Belgium 


United 
Kingdom 


Whole 
World 


1864-68 


24'6 


287 


12-0 


11-9 


loo-Q 


188*3 


1866 


1869-73 


39-8 


38-3 


14-4 


14-1 


117 -7 


237*7 


1871 


1874-78 


49'3 


47-8 


16-7 


14 '3 


132-2 


280*9 


1876 


1879-83 


79 'o 


61 "o 


I9'3 


16-7 


151*0 


355 '6 


1881 


1884-88 


III-4 


74'3 


20-3 


17-8 


161-9 


423-5 


1886 


1889-93 


148*1 


89-8 


25-2 


19 '5 


178*0 


509-4 


1891 


1894-98 


I74'3 


iio'9 


29-1 


20-8 


195 '5 


594-4 


1896 


1899-1903 


263-7 


147-8 


32-2 


22-5 


224*4 


779'S 


1901 



In the five years to 


Rates of increase per cent shown in the preceding table 


United 
States 


German 
Empire 


France 


Belgium 


United 
Kingdom 

17-6 
12-3 
I4'3 

7*2 

9 '9 

9*8 
14*8 


Whole 
World 


1871 
1876 
1881 
1886 
1891 
1896 
1901 


6i-7 
24-0 
60-2 
40-9 
33-0 

17-7 
51-3 


33 '3 
24-7 
27-7 
21*8 
20*9 
23'5 
33'3 


20*1 
IS '5 
15-9 
5-3 
24-1 
15*2 
10*6 


18*8 
1*1 

17-1 
6-3 
9 '4 
7-0 
8-2 


26*2 

l8*2 

26*6 
19*1 
20*3 
16*7 
31-1 


In thirty years to 
1901 


S63 


286 


123 


59 


91 


228 



1 The data are derived, for the several countries, from the 
Mineral Resources of the United States, and, for the -world at large, 
from The Mineral Industry. Though the figures given in this 
latter publication do not entirely agree ivith those of the Colliery 
Guardian or of Engineering, the differences are not large. The 
chief source of divergence is in the estimates of production of the 
minor producing states. The convenient fact that the figures 
quoted cover the entire forty years, year by year, while the other 



366 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

A line is added to the second table to show the increase 
of the production in the period 1899- 1903 over that of 
the period 1869-1873, thirty years earlier. It will be 
observed that the French output has increased in a 
greater proportion than that of this country, while the 
production in Germany has increased at a greater rate 
than the aggregate production of the world, and the 
United States output has increased by twice as great 
a percentage as that of the German Empire. 

In the aggregate, this country has contributed more 
to the world's coal supply, even in the last twenty years, 
than any other country. In the thirty-five years from 
1869 to 1903, the aggregate production, in millions of 
tons, has been as follows : — 



Total Output of Coal, 1869-1903 
Millions of tons (2,240 lbs.) 



United Kingdom . 


5,803 


United States . . 


. . 4,328 


German Empire . . . . 


2,850 


France 


786 


Belgium .... 


. . 629 


Entire World 


. 15,910 



A study of the table showing the varying rates of 
increase of coal output in different countries will yield 
much food for reflection. It fails, however, to demonstrate 
that the coal production of the United Kingdom is growing 
only at a steadily diminishing rate. The rate of growth 

authorities either do not supply so extensive or so continuous a 
series, has led to the use of this table in place of the figures 
supplied to the late Royal Commission. The data for Germany 
and France include lignite as well as coal proper. 



XIV THE WORLD'S COAL RESOURCES 367 

is less than formerly, less than in either Germany or the 
United States, and only about half that of the aggregate 
production of the world. But we cannot yet foretell, as 
some would have us believe, the approximate date 
when our output will become stationary, or begin 
to decline. The more rapidly it be increased at 
present, however, the sooner must that period be 
reached.] 

The following returns for the year 1905 have appeared 
while the above was in the press (cf pp. 322 and 399). 

Production in 1905 

Tons (2,240 lbs.) 

Coal Iron 

United Kingdom . . 236,111,150 . . . 9,592,737 

United States 22,992,380 

Bituminous' . . . 265,809,333 — 

Anthracite .... 67,412,056 — 

Germany 10,811,036 

Coal 117,796,120 — 

Lignite 51,630,200 — 

France 3,028,000 

Coal 34,779,150 — 

Lignite 689,767 — 



1 



Including lignite. 



CHAPTER XV 

OF THE IRON TRADE 

Solon said well to Croesus, when in ostentation 
he showed him his gold, " Sir, if any other 
come that hath better iron than you, he will be 
master of all this gold." ^ And it will hardly be 
denied that the retention of our supremacy in the 
production and working of iron is a critical point 
of our future history. Most of those works and 
inventions in which we are pre-eminent depend 
upon the use of iron in novel modes and magni- 
tudes. Roads, bridges, engines, vessels, are more 
and more formed of this invaluable metal. And 
it was well remarked by Wilberforce in opposing 
an intended tax upon iron that " the possession 
of iron was one of the great grounds of distinc- 
tion between civilized and barbarous society ; and 
in the same proportion that this country had 
improved in manufactures and civilization, the 

' Bacon. 



CH. XV OF THE IRON TRADE 369 

manufacture of iron had been extended and 
improved, and found its way by numerous mean- 
dering streams into every department of civil 
life." ' 

As our iron furnaces are a chief source of our 
power in the present, their voracious consump- 
tion of coal is most threatening as regards the 
future. Though iron is only one of the many 
products of coal, the making and working of iron 
demanded in 1865 between one-fourth and one- 
third of our whole yield of coal [and it demands 
about one-eighth of the output forty years later] ; 
at the same time the iron trade offers a wide field 
for a future increase of consumption. We have 
seen that for a century [to about 1870] our pro- 
duce of iron increased at a constant rate,^ and the 
pre-eminent usefulness of iron places it beside coal 
and corn as a material of which there cannot be 
too much — which itself excites and supports 
population, offering it the means of constant 
multiplication. 

Bu^ it is essentially a suicidal trade in a national 
point of view. Once already, in an earlier period 
of iron metallurgy, the iron trade exhausted our 
resources, and quitted our shores. Its absence 
contributed to produce that dull and unpro- 

' Hansard's Debates, vol. vii, p. 79. ^ See pp. 246-7. 

B B 



370 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

gressive period in the early part of the eighteenth 
century which is so strongly marked upon our 
annals. 

The former vicissitudes of the iron trade are 
of a very instructive character. There are two 
natural periods in the history of the iron manu- 
facture — the charcoal period and the coal period. 
We require antiquarian writers like Mr. Nichols, 
Mr. Lower, or Mr. Smiles, to remind us of the 
very existence of a considerable manufacture 
of charcoal iron in England in former cen- 
turies. It is now utterly a thing of the 
past.^ 

Until the middle of the eighteenth century, 

1 Newland and Backbarrow in Lancashire, Duddon in Cumber- 
land, and Loon in Scotland were the only charcoal furnaces in the 
United Kingdona when Jevons wrote the above {Mineral Statistics, 
1863, p. 70). The Backbarrow furnace was in operation as recently 
as 1902. Mr. Bennett H. Brough, secretary of the Iron and Steel 
Institute, has kindly supplied the information that all the charcoal 
furnaces are now shut down. It may be noted that a considerable 
manufacture of charcoal iron continues in the United States. The 
annual make increased from 388,677 tons in 1880 to 593,492 tons in 
1890, and then decreased to 303,567 tons in 1900. In proportion to 
the whole pig-iron output of the United States it was 11 "5 per cent 
in 1880, 67 per cent in 1890, and only 2"i per cent in 1900 (see 
Reports of Twelfth Census, vol. x, p. 32). Prior to 1838 practically 
all the iron made in the United States was charcoal iron, and for 
nearly fifty years, from 1799 to 1844, charcoal iron ruled the market 
and was the standard of price {Tke Mineral Industry for 1893). 
In Germany and France, up to about the middle of the nineteenth 
century, charcoal iron was the chief product (S. S. Jeans in 
British Industries, p. 6). 



XV OF THE IRON TRADE 371 

however, iron was always made with charcoal, 
and a wooded country was necessarily its seat. 
Coal, or cole, was then the common name for 
charcoal, pit-coal being distinguished as sea-coal. 
The collier or collyer was the labourer who cut 
the timber, stacked it in heaps, charked it, and 
conveyed the coal on pack-horses to the iron 
bloomary and forge, situated in some neigh- 
bouring valley, where a stream of water gave 
motion to the bellows and the tilt-hammer. 

The ore or mine was also brought by pack- 
horse from some neighbouring mine or deposit — 
for there are few geological formations or dis- 
tricts of this country which do not yield iron ore. 
Often the mine used was derived from heaps of 
old slag or offal, the refuse of still earlier iron 
works. For, in a previous age, even the use of 
water-power was unknown, and the furnace was 
blown by \h& foot-blast, double bellows alternately 
pressed by a man as he stepped from one to the 
other. The low heat thus obtained was not 
capable of half withdrawing the metal from its 
matrix. The thousands of tons of cinder and 
slag — " old man," as it is locally called — left by 
the Romans, for the most part, as the included 
coins and antiquities prove, on the Forest of 
Dean, the Weald of Sussex, or the Cleveland 

B B 2 



372 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

Hills, were long a source of wonder and profit to 
the manufacturers of a later period. 

Here we see a curious instance of the reaction 
and mutual dependence of the arts. The use of 
water-power, by giving a blast and heat of 
greater intensity, raised the iron manufacture 
to a new efficiency, but it could not enable us to 
use coal in smelting iron. It was the advance 
of the art of iron-working, and its special ap- 
plication in the steam-engine, that gave us the 
blowing-engine, and coal-blast furnace, which 
contributed in a main degree to our commercial 
resuscitation and our present strong position. 

It was in the seventeenth century that the char- 
coal iron manufacture most flourished in England, 
and its chief seat was Sussex. " I have heard," 
says Norden in his Surveyors Dialogue, "that 
there are, or recently were in Sussex neere 140 
hammers and furnaces for iron." And Camden 
says of Sussex,^ " Full of iron-mines it is in 
sundry places, where, for the making and found- 
ing thereof, there be furnaces on every side, and 
a huge deal of wood is yearly burnt ; to which 
purpose divers brooks in many places are brought 
to run into one channel, and sundry meadows 

1 Quoted by M. A. Lower. Contributions to Literature, 1854, 
p. 120. 



XV OF THE IRON TRADE 373 

turned into pools and waters, that they may be 
of power sufficient to drive hammer-mills, which 
beating upon the iron, resound all over the 
places adjoining." 

The increase of the trade threatened to denude 
England of the forests which were considered an 
ornament to the country, as well as essential to 
its security, as providing the oak timber for our 
navy. Poets and statesmen agreed in condemn- 
ing the encroachments of the ironmasters. 

"These iron times breed none that mind posterity" — 

says Drayton. And George Withers in 1634^ 
speaks of — 

" The havoc and the spoyle, 
Which, even within the measure of my days. 
Is made through every quarter of this Isle — 
In woods and groves which were this kingdom's praise." 

Stowe at the same period clearly describes the 
growing scarcity of wood-fuel, the falsification 
of previous anticipations, and the necessity felt 
for resorting more and more to coal. 

" Such hath bene the plenty of wood in Eng- 
land for all uses that within man's memory it 
was held impossible to have any want of wood in 
England, but contrary to former imaginations 
such hath bene the great expense of timber for 

1 Quoted by Smiles. Lives of the Engineers, vol. i, p. 292. 



374 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

navigation ; with infinite increase of building of 
houses, with the great expense of wood to make 
household furniture, casks, and other vessels not 
to be numbered, and of carts, waggons, and 
coaches ; besides the extreme waste of wood in 
making iron, burning of bricks and tiles," etc. 

" At this present, through the great consuming 
of wood as aforesaid, there is so great a scarcity 
of wood throughout the whole kingdom, that 
not only the city of London, all haven towns, 
and in very many parts within the land, the 
inhabitants in general are constrained to make 
their fires of sea-coal, or pit-coal, even in the 
chambers of honourable personages ; and through 
necessity, which is the mother of all arts, they 
have of very late years devised the making of 
iron, the making of all sorts of glass, burning of 
bricks, with sea-coal or pit-coal. Within thirty 
years last, the nice dames of London would not 
come into any house, or room, where sea-coals 
were burned, nor willingly eat of the meat that 
was either sod or roasted with sea-coal fire." ^ 

Norden says, " He that well observes it and 
hath knowne the welds of Sussex, Surrey, and 
Kent, the grand nursery of those kind of trees, 
especially oke and beech, shall find an alteration 

' Stowe's Annals, 1632, p. 1025. 



XV OF THE IRON TRADE 375 

within lesse than thirty years, as may well strike 
a feare, lest few yeares more, as pestilent as the 
former, will leave few goode trees standing in 
these welds. Such a heat issueth out of the 
many forges, and furnaces, for the making of 
yron, and out of the glasse kilnes, as hath 
devoured many famous woods within the welds." ^ 

Evelyn in his Diary, deploring the fall of a 
fine oak, expresses "a deep execration of iron 
mills, and I had almost sayd ironmasters too." 

It was against those " voracious iron-works " 
that statutes of the ist and 27th years of Eliza- 
beth were directed, to prevent the destruction 
of timber trees which were necessary to maintain 
the wooden walls and maritime power of Eng- 
land. But in spite of statutes the waste went 
on. Postlethwayt, writing in 1766, says,^ " The 
waste and destruction that has been of the woods 
in Warwick, Stafford, Worcester, Hereford, Mon- 
mouth, Gloucester, Glamorgan, Pembroke, Shrop- 
shire, and Sussex, by the iron-works, is not to be 
imagined. The scarcity of wood is thereby al- 
ready grown so great, that where cord wood has 
been sold at five or six shillings per cord. Mnthin 
these few years it is now risen to upwards of 

' Surveyor's Dialogue, p. 175. 

^ Commercial Dictionary, Art. Coal. 



376 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

twelve or fourteen shillings, and in some places 
is all consumed. And if some care is not taken 
to preserve our timber from these consuming 
furnaces, we shall certainly soon stand in need 
of oak to supply the royal navy, and also ship- 
ping for the use of the merchants, to the great 
discouragement of shipbuilding and navigation, 
upon which the safety and figure of these king- 
doms, as a maritime power, depend." 

Now, I particularly beg attention to the curious 
fact that, in the course of the seventeenth century, 
the iron manufacture to some extent migrated to 
Ireland. The woods of that country were full 
of timber when those of England were nearly 
exhausted. The trade at once followed the fuel 
in spite of a want of ore in Ireland. As appears 
in tables of Irish exports, and in Sir F. Brewster's 
New Essays on Traded of the year 1702, Ireland 
became an iron exporting country. Sir William 
Temple says,^ " Iron seems to me the manu- 
facture that of all others ought the least to be 
encouraged in Ireland ; or if it be, which re- 
quires the most restriction to certain places and 
rules. For I do not remember to have heard 

^ See pp. 94, etc. 

2 Essay upon the Advancement of Trade in Ireland, Works, 1720 
vol. i, p. 119. This essay was first published in 1673. Some 
native ore was smelted in Ireland, though part was imported. 



XV OF THE IRON TRADE 377 

that there is any ore in Ireland, at least I am 
sure that the greatest part is fetched from Eng- 
land ; so that all this country affords of its own 
growth towards this manufacture, is but the 
wood, which has met but with too great con- 
sumptions already in most parts of this kingdom, 
and needs not this to destroy what is left. So 
that Iron-works ought to be confined to certain 
places, where either the woods continue vast, 
and make the country savage ; or where they are 
not at all fit for timber, or likely to grow to it ; or 
where there is no conveyance for timber to places 
of vent, so as to quit the cost of the carriage." 

Postlethwayt alludes to the migration of the 
manufacture and the necessary result. " It is 
generally allowed that within about these seventy 
years, Ireland was better stored with oak-timber 
than England ; but several gentlemen from hence, 
as well as those residing there, set up iron-works, 
which in a few years swept away the wood to that 
degree, that they have had even a scarcity of small 
stuff to produce bark for their tanning, nor scarce 
timber for their common and necessary uses." 

When Ireland was in a condition to compete 
with England in a given manufacture, no arti- 
ficial encouragement was needed. Frequent 
attempts on the other hand were made to gain a 



378 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

supply of iron from our American plantations. 
" Certainly," as Evelyn remarked, " the goodly 
rivers and forests of the other world would much 
better become our iron and saw-mills, than these 
exhausted countries, and we prove gainers by 
the timely removal." But, perhaps from the 
want of labour, American iron could not compete 
with Continental iron. 

England had for a length of time made and 
used much iron. " The Forest of Deane," says 
Yarranton, " is, as to the iron, to be compared 
to the sheep's back as to the woollen ; nothing 
being of more advantage to England than these 
two are." And the Commanders of the Spanish 
Armada are said to have had especial orders to 
destroy the Forest of Dean, as being a main 
source of England's strength. And though coal 
could not yet be used in the smelting-furnace, it 
had long been chiefly used in the finery, the 
chafery, and the blacksmith's hearth. A great 
portion of the coal and culm that had for 
centuries been exported to France, and the 
coasts of the Northern Sea, was used in the 
smithy. And it was undoubtedly the abundance 
of coal that reared from early times the ironwork- 
ing arts at Sheffield, Dudley, and Birmingham. 

When our home production of iron was rapidly 



XV OF THE IRON TRADE 379 

failing, there was a considerable demand for 
foreign iron in England. Hewitt, in his Statistics 
of the Iron Traded after expressing his surprise 
that in 1740 the total produce of England was 
only 17,350 tons, made in 59 furnaces, adds his 
conviction that the total production of Europe at 
the time did not exceed 100,000 tons, of which 
60,000 were made in the forest countries of 
Sweden, Norway, and Russia. One-half of this 
was imported into England. The consumption 
of iron in England, he thinks, was islbs. per 
head of the population ; while in Europe, on the 
average, it did not exceed albs. Of the iron we 
used, four-fifths were considered to be imported 
from one country or another. Joshua Gee speaks 
of our market as "the most considerable in 
Europe for the vast consumption of iron," and 
represents the Swedes, Danes, and Russians as 
striving to gain our market.^ Our production of 
iron by the middle of the century was believed to 
have declined to one-tenth part of its former 
amount, and the high cost of foreign iron formed 
the main check upon the progress of those arts 
which were to be so great. By this time the 
substitution of coal for charcoal had become a 

1 Statistics and Geography of the Production of Iron : New York, 

1856, p. 7- 

2 Trade and Navigation of Great Britain, 1738, p. 104. 



38o THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

necessity. Postlethwayt, in a pamphlet possessed 
by the Statistical Society/ describes the condition 
of the iron trade in 1747, remarking that " Eng- 
land not being so woody a country as either 
Sweden or Russia, we do not abound, nor ever 
shall, with a sufficiency of wood-coal ; " and that 
as cordwood was doubled, or trebled in price, six 
or eight times dearer than pit-coal, and very dear 
compared with its price in foreign iron-making 
countries, it was no wonder home-made iron 
decreased. This scarcity of wood was really due, 
of course, to the superior profits to be derived 
from using the land as pasture, Norden allowed 
this a century before : " The cleansing of many 
of these welde grounds hath redounded rather to 
the benefite than to the hurte of the countrey : 
for where woods did growe in superfluous abun- 
dance there was lacke of pasture for kine, and of 
arable land for come." 

And Houghton had acutely anticipated the 
subsequent course of things by suggesting that 
it would be profitable to cut down all wood near 
navigable waters where coal could be had, of 
which he remarked we had enough} 

1 Considerations on the making of Bar Iron with Pit or Sea Coal 
Fire, 1747. 

^ Houghtonh Collection of Letters for the hnprovement of Hus- 
bandry and Trade, 1727-1728, vol. iv, p. 259. 



XV OF THE IRON TRADE 381 

To make iron with pit-coal was the great 
problem, the practical solution of which was all- 
important to the nation. 

It was no new notion. From the early part of 
the seventeenth century it had been the object of 
eager experiments, and the cause of ruin to many 
of the experimenters. The history of the estab- 
lishment of our great iron trade has been de- 
scribed in the works of Mr. Smiles, Dr. Percy, 
and others, but it possesses points of interest 
which we cannot pass over. 

Simon Sturtevant, a German metallurgist, about 
161 2, was the first to take out a patent for 
making iron with pit-coal. His specification of 
the invention, entitled A Treatise of Metallica, 
is an eccentric but clever production. In the 
practical part of his work he seems to have had 
less success than in the literary ; and others who 
followed up his notions — mostly Dutchmen and 
Germans, such as Rovenson, Jordan, Franche, 
and Sir Phillibert Vernalt — had no more success. 

The following verses of the year 1633 quaintly 
allude to such attempts :— 

" The yron mills are excellent for that ; 
I have a patent draune to that effect ; 
If they goe up, downe goe the goodly trees. 
I'll make them search the earth to find new fire." ^ 

' The Costlie Whore, quoted by Percy, Metallurgy of Iron and 
Steel, p. 144. 



382 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

It was Dud Dudley, a natural son of Lord 
Dudley, of Dudley Castle, manager of his 
father's iron forges in the neighbourhood, who, 
in 1 62 1, first succeeded in smelting iron with 
coal. According to his own account in his 
Metallum Martis, he made considerable quan- 
tities of pit-coal iron at Cradley, Pensnet, Him- 
ley, and Sedgley. But various disasters and 
troubles, the jealousy of other ironmasters, and 
the civil strife of the time, frustrated all his 
undertakings, and left him a ruined man. His 
history may be read in his own work or in Mr. 
Smiles' Industrial Biography. 

Dudley's invention, it would seem probable, 
depended upon charking or coking the coal, in 
a manner analogous to the making of wood 
charcoal. The coke thus prepared was com- 
paratively free from sulphur, and more readily 
gave a strong heat. Dudley was thus able, 
according to his own account, to make five or 
seven tons of iron a week, selling his pig-iron 
ai £\ per ton and his bar-iron at £\2, while 
charcoal iron cost in pigs £b or ^7, and in bars 
^15 o"" ^18. He relied for commercial success 
upon the cheapness of his iron compared with 
its fair quality, and he expresses clearly the true 
inducing cause and purpose of his invention. 



XV OF THE IRON TRADE 383 

"knowing that if there could be any use made 
of the small-coales that are of little use, then 
would they be drawn out of the Pits, which 
coles produceth oftentimes great prejudice unto 
the owners of the works and the work itself, 
and also unto the colliers." ^ 

The almost gratuitous use of fuel thus alluded 
to obviously led to Dudley's remarkable efforts 
towards our great manufacture. After Dudley's 
misfortunes his invention was not followed up. 
The want of wood was not yet severely felt, and 
the owners of woodland country and iron forges, 
of course, considered their interest in the char- 
coal iron manufacture as one to be protected. 
When Dr. Plot wrote his curious Natural 
History of Staffordshire, the making of pit- 
coal iron was a matter of unfortunate history, and 
he speaks of a certain German, Dr. Blewstone, 
as making " the last effort in that country to 
smelt iron ore with pit-coal." ^ 

Thus the matter rested for half a century. 
The iron trade, which Andrew Yarranton, about 
this time, truly designated the keystone of 
England's industrial prosperity, was checked by 
the high and rising price of the metal ; and the 

' Metallum Martis, London, 1665, p. 8. 
2 Smiles' Industrial Biography, p. 77. 



384 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

efforts made to get iron from Ireland or the 
Transatlantic Plantations had but a slight or 
temporary success. 

It was Abraham Darby who revived the for- 
gotten method of smelting with pit-coal. The 
earliest adventurers in the process, we have seen, 
were Germans, and it is curious that the success 
of the Darby family was founded upon foreign 
experience. The eldest Abraham Darby went 
over to Holland in 1706, and learnt the method 
of casting hollow iron pots, or Hilton ware, as it 
was then called. Bringing over skilled Dutch 
workmen, he took out a patent to protect his 
newly-acquired process, and then, in 1709, 
started the celebrated Coalbrookdale Works in 
Shropshire. At first the oak and hazel woods 
furnished fuel, but the supply presently proving 
insufficient for the growing trade, it became 
customary to mix coke and brays, or small coke, 
with the charge of fuel. Eventually, when an 
increased blast was obtained, coke took the place 
of charcoal entirely. 

There is much uncertainty and discrepancy 
concerning the history of the Coalbrookdale 
Works. Scrivenor, in his History of the Iron 
Trade, represents pit-coal as used in 1713. Dr. 
Percy, on the other hand, describes the younger 



XV OF THE IRON TRADE 385 

Abraham Darby as first employing raw coal 
in the smelting furnace between the years 1730 
and 1735. 

In his first successfial experiment he is said to 
have watched the filling of his furnace for six 
days and nights uninterruptedly, falling into a 
deep sleep when he saw the molten iron running 
forth. The success of the work was probably 
secured by the erection of a water-wheel of 
twenty-four feet diameter, capable of giving a 
powerful blast. But water was scarce, and a 
fire-engine, or old atmospheric steam-engine, was 
set up to pump back the water from the lower to 
the upper mill-pond. Here is one of those 
significant instances which teach us the power 
of coal and the interdependence of the arts. Em- 
ployed in this engine as a source of motive 
power, it enabled coal to be also used in the 
smelting-furnace. And this is typical of the iron 
trade, as it is of other trades to the present day ; 
for our iron industry in all its developments is 
as dependent on coal for motive power as for 
fuel in the furnace. 

In December, 1756, we find the works "at the 
top pinnacle of prosperity, twenty or twenty-two 
tons per week, and sold off as fast as made, at 
profit enough." And from this time and from 

c c 



386 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

this success arose England's material power. To 
this invention, says McCulloch, " this country 
owes more perhaps than to any one else." ^ 

The subsequent history of the iron trade is 
best to be read in the growth of its produce. 
Already in 1788 the produce had risen to 68,300 
tons, and the increase has since proceeded [till 
about 1870], as we have seen, in a nearly constant 
rate of multiplication.^ 

The chief difficulty experienced in the exten- 
sion of the trade was the want of motive power. 
Thus Mr. J. Cookson introduced the coal iron 
manufacture into the Newcastle district, the 
blast being worked by a water-wheel on Chester 
Burn. But " frequent interruption, for want of 
water to drive their wheel, led at length to the 
furnace being ' gobbed,' and ultimately aban- 
doned, about the close of the last [eighteenth} 
century."^ 

Roebuck originated the great iron trade of 
Scotland, and his success was due to the com- 
mand of a good blast. 

" Dr. Roebuck was one of the first to employ 
coal in iron-smelting on a large scale, and for 

' Literature of Political Economy,-^. 238. 

^ Chapter xi . 

^ Report of the British Association, 1863, p. 738. 



XV OF THE IRON TRADE 387 

that purpose he required the aid of the most 
powerful blowing apparatus that could be pro- 
cured. Mr. Smeaton succeeded in contriving 
and fixing for him, about the year 1768, a highly 
effective machine of this kind, driven by a water- 
wheel." ^ This contrivance is said to have been 
the blowing cylinder now used.^ 

Wilkinson was another great promoter of the 
iron manufacture, and his success arose from 
applying the steam-engine directly to work the 
blast-engine of his furnace near Bilston in. 
Staffordshire.' 

Cort's improvements in the puddling, faggot- 
ing, and rolling of iron blooms followed. The 
extensive use of such improvements depends 
upon the use of coal as the only fuel sufficiently 
abundant for the puddling, or reheating furnaces, 
and to supply the enormous power required in 
rolling iron bars of large size. 

The discovery of the hot-blast process by Mr. 
Neilson is the next great step,* and one of the 
most surprising instances of economy in the 
history of the arts. Ironmasters had previously 
adhered to the mistaken notion that a very, cool 

1 Smiles' Engineers, vol. ii, p. 6i. 
^ Percy's Metallurgy, Iron, p. 889. 
^ History of Wednesbury, p. 116. 
1 The date of the patent is 1828. 

C C 2 



388 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

blast was essential to making good iron, and 
some even tried the use of ice in cooling the air 
of the blast. But when a blast of air, hot enough 
to melt lead, was used instead, the consumption 
of coal per ton of cast iron made was reduced 
from seven tons to two, or two and a half tons} 
But was this enormous saving equivalent to a 
decrease of consumption ? The produce of pig 
iron in Scotland increased as follows : — 

Year Tons 

1820 . . 20,000 

1830 . 37,500 

1839 . 200,000 

1 85 1 . 77S,ooo 

1863 . . . 1,160,000 

Now, if we compare the consumption of coal in 
1830 and 1863, we find — 

37,500 X 7 tons = 262,500 tons of coal. 
1,160,000x2 tons = 2,32o,ooo „ 

Or the consumption of coal was increased eight- 
fold, not to speak of the consumption of coal in 
puddling or working the iron, or in the machine 
industry which cheap iron promotes.^ 

1 Mushet, Papers on Iron and Steel, 1840, gives the consumption 
of coal in July, 1797, as nine and a half tons of coal for one ton of 
iron. In 18 10 about five tons were used in Staffordshire, according 
to the same writer ; in 1840 about three or three and a half 
{Report B of Coal Commission of 1871, p. 97). 

2 In reference to the effect of successive economies of fuel on 
the consumption of coal in the iron and steel industries, cf. p. 142, 
footnote. 



XV OF THE IRON TRADE 389 

A subsequent step of economy has been the 
utilisation of the waste gases of the blast-furnace 
in heating the blast, or the boilers of the steam- 
engines which drive the blast-engine. This im- 
provement, however, was adopted extensively on 
the Continent, and in the United States, before 
it was introduced here in 1845. Now it is ap- 
plied in all our iron-producing centres with perfect 
success. 

In 1855 there was introduced one of the most 
ingenious improvements of the iron manufacture, 
that of Mr. Bessemer, [a process remarkable in 
the economy of fuel it effects, the molten iron 
being raised to the high temperature needed by 
the heat developed in the consumption of the 
impurities it is desired to remove. By the pro- 
cesses previously adopted about three and a half 
tons of coke were needed for the conversion of a 
ton of pig iron into steel. FBessemer's process 
reduced the consumption to about three hundred- 
weight of coke, required for fusing the metal 
preparatory to treatment by the blast. For some 
years,] indeed, the process was but half completed, 
because the stream of air forced through the 
molten cast iron was found to remove only the 
carbon and the silicon, leaving the injurious 
elements, sulphur and phosphorus, nearly un- 



390 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

touched.^ It is, therefore, necessary to use, in 
the making of Bessemer steel, ores which are 
free from impurities, the comparative scarcity of 
which caused the price of the steel for a time to 
remain high. [But this defect in the original 
process was in due time overcome by the 
modifications introduced about 1878 by Gilchrist 
and Thomas, which enable pig iron containing too 
much phosphorus for Bessemer steel-making to 
be converted, nevertheless, into excellent steel. J 
This invention, or series of inventions, has been 
one of those modes of economy which, in reduc- 
ing the cost of a most valuable material, lead to 
an indefinite demand. [The labours of Bessemer, 
Siemens, Thomas, and Gilchrist have effected] 
one of the greatest advances in the arts ever 
achieved. Such are the wonderful qualities of 
steel that, if it be cheap enough, its uses are almost 
infinite. Our engines, machines, vessels, railroads, 
conveyances, furniture can all be made of it, 
with an immense improvement in strength, dura- 
bility, and lightness. [The displacement of iron 
by steel which followed the cheapened methods 
of steel-making] was like a repetition of that sub- 
stitution of iron for wood, in mill work, which 
Brindley and Smeaton and Rennie brought about. 

1 Percy's Metallurgy of Iron and Steel, p. 817. 



XV OF THE IRON TRADE 391 

And by still further multiplying the value of our 
coal and iron resources, it would have accelerated 
alike our present growth and the future ex- 
haustion of our resources, [but for the fact that 
the new processes were applied with even greater 
advantage in other countries than in our own. 
The Gilchrist- Thomas process has enabled Ger- 
many to develop an iron industry more than 
adequate to meet the enlarged demand for steel, 
in that country, which followed the cheapening 
of its production. The ores of Lothringen and 
Luxemburg, of little value formerly in com- 
petition with those of Great Britain, have 
afforded an abundance of material for a produc- 
tion of steel as great as our own. In the United 
States, too, the enormous demand for steel has 
been met from the resources of the country 
itself, thus relieving our coal-fields from one 
source of exhaustion at an accelerated rate.] 

When we reflect upon the conditions of our great 
production of iron, we shall see them to consist, 
apart from the ingenuity and perseverance which 
gave us the inventions, in the following : — 

1. Cheapness and excellence of fuel. 

2. Proximity of fuel, ores, and fluxes. 

Of the first little need here be said. It will be 



392 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

remembered that the first success of Dudley was 
obtained in the neighbourhood of the "Thick 
coal," where up to the end of the eighteenth 
century coal was a " drug " ; and almost the 
same may be said of Coalbrookdale, where the 
final success was attained. And now, whether 
in South Wales, Scotland, Yorkshire, Stafford- 
shire, or Northumberland, the iron manufacture 
most flourishes where suitable coal is to be had 
at the lowest rate. 

As regards the second condition, it has been 
the constant reflection of English writers that 
the co-existence of the materials of the iron 
manufacture wa:s not undesigned. " The occur- 
rence of this most useful of metals, in imme- 
diate connexion with the fuel requisite for its 
reduction, and the limestone which facilitates that 
reduction, is an instance of arrangement so 
happily suited to the purposes of human indus- 
try, that it can hardly be considered as recurring 
unnecessarily to final causes, if we conceive that 
this distribution of the rude materials of the 
earth was determined with a view to the con- 
venience of its inhabitants." In South Wales, 
Staffordshire, and elsewhere, there are often 
found in conjunction the coal, ironstone, lime- 
stone flux, as well as the refractory clay and 



XV OF THE IRON TRADE 



393 



gritstone necessary for the construction of the 
furnaces. The fact, however, is that this is 
rapidly becoming an imaginary condition of our 
trade. The exhaustion of the ironstone seams 
in some places, the cost of working them in 
others, the increased facilities of transport by 
rail, new discoveries of superior ore, are render- 
ing our iron-works more and more dependent on 
distant supplies -of ore. Scrivenor says : " The 
great superiority of our iron manufacture has 
generally been considered (independently of the 
excellent quality of the coal) to consist in having 
all the materials necessary to the manufacture 
found on, or immediately in the neighbourhood 
of, the very spot where the furnaces are erected. 
South Staffordshire, as it was, will serve to 
illustrate this point — abundance of good coal — 
amongst other seams that of the tenyard — ex- 
cellent ironstone and limestone ; this last from 
Dudley ; celebrated for its beautiful fossil slabs ; 
but now limestone is brought from the vale of 
Llangollen, and the ironmasters are looking to 
Northamptonshire and other places to assist 
them with the required supply of ironstone. Is 
not this, as regards South Staffordshire, the 
beginning of an end? 

" This scarcity of materials is certainly most 



394 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

beneficial to districts where, from the want of 
coal, it was never contemplated having any 
share in the manufacture of iron ; but it alters 
the general character of the circumstances under 
which we have been accustomed to view our 
superiority, and casts the first shadow upon the 
iron trade." ^ 

Blackwell, in his lecture on the Iron Resources 
of Britain, although asserting that "in no other 
countries does this proximity of ore and fuel 
exist to the same extent as in England," ^ de- 
scribes how the facilities of transport are de- 
loping a new system. The iron trade, he says, 



1 Scrivenor on the Iron Trade, p. 301. The course of events, in 
reference to ore supply, in Staffordshire, during the last half- 
century, has been peculiar. In 1855, the ore raised was about 
2,500,000 tons, which was more than enough to provide the 
material for the iron output of 855,500 tons in that year. By 1865 
the iron output had increased to 898,890 tons, while the ore raised 
was but 1,484,900 tons, or sufficient for about 520,000 tons of iron, 
assuming average iron contents of 35 per cent. About 1870, or 
shortly after, about half the ore supply of the county was imported. 
An increase of ore raised, and a falling off in the make of iron, 
brought about a reversal of the current. By 1884 the make of pig 
iron, 575,900 tons, was less than the iron equivalent of the ore 
raised, 1,873,700 tons, this reversed relation dating from about 
1 880. The current has once more been reversed since that time, and 
in 1902 the make of pig iron in the county, 574,894 tons, required 
the use of 1,534,464 tons of ore, while only 815,379 tons were raised 
in Staffordshire in that year. (Cf Memorandum presented to the 
Royal Commission on the Depression of Trade and Industry, by 
Sir Lowthian Bell, and the Mineral Statistics for 1902.) 

^ Page 150. 



XV OF THE IRON TRADE 395 

fosters itself by its own creation, the railroad. 
It is by this that the new-discovered, or rather 
the re-discovered, ores in the oolitic formation, 
stretching obliquely across England, are made 
available, saving the North of England and the 
South Staffordshire iron-works from stoppage 
under the competition of the Scotch black- 
band works. Of South Staffordshire he says : 
" Hitherto the second most important iron dis- 
trict in the kingdom, it could no longer have 
maintained its ground against other localities had 
it not been for this discovery. South Wales had 
its cheap and good coals, its blackbands, and its 
supplies of sea-borne haematites, as well as its 
own argillaceous ironstones ; Scotland its beds of 
blackbands ; and the North of England its oolitic 
ores ; but up to the present time South Stafford- 
shire had only its argillaceous ironstones, always 
the most expensive to raise, with such admixture 
of haematite and North Staffordshire stone as the 
great cost of carriage would permit." ^ 

It is even possible that recourse will some day 
be had to the Wealden ores, used in the old 
charcoal iron-works of Sussex, and which are 
both rich and plentiful, though too distant from 
coal for present use. 

1 Blackwell, p. 165. 



396 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

It is an all-important fact of this subject, that 
the ore is carried to the fuel, not the fuel to the 
ore. This was the case when the pack-horse 
conveyed ore to the forges situated among the 
wood lands which supplied the charcoal. When 
timber-fuel was abundant in Ireland, ore was 
sent thither from England. In the still earlier 
times of the foot-blast the smelting hearth was 
shifted about the hills to the parts most abound- 
ing in timber, as may be inferred from heaps of 
scoria scattered here and there up to the very 
summit of the hills. And it is the case now, with 
all our superior means of transport and dimin- 
ished consumption of fuel. The same fact is 
found elsewhere. 

" Prussia is rich in iron ores, but they seldom 
occur along with the coal. In former times, the 
blast-furnaces were built where wood abounded 
and water power was available ; but in later 
times, as the use of coal and coke became more 
and morejgeneral, it was found that the coal- 
basins were the fittest localities for the erection 
of works, as it was more easy and economical to 
take the ore to the fuel than the fuel to the 
ore." ' 

^ Percy's Metallurgy of Iron, p. 564. The rule that the ore is 
carried to the fuel rather than the fuel to the ore still applies 



XV OF THE IRON TRADE 397 

Let us now consider the position and prospects 
of the English iron manufacture, comparatively 
to those of other countries, [both a generation 
ago, and at the present time.J The following 
were the amounts of pig iron produced by the 
three chief iron-making nations in 1862 : — 



Great Britain . 


• • 3,943,469 


France . . . . 


1,073,300 


United States . . . 


703,270 



If the produce of all other countries were added, 
it would still be found, no doubt, that our produce 
exceeded that of the rest of the world, in spite of 
the rapid progress of the manufacture in France 
and America in the years immediately preceding 
the date in question. Not long before our ex- 
ports of iron were scarcely inferior to the gross 
produce of the rest of the world} This was not 

generally. Ores from Lothringen and Luxemburg are smelted on 
the Ruhr coal-field. But the rule is far from universal, for coke is 
taken from the Ruhr to Lothringen, for the purpose of smelting 
the ore at the mines. The reduction in the amount of coke needed 
to make a ton of iron has made such a procedure feasible. Nearly 
ij tons of coke must be brought to the ore for each ton of iron 
produced, but about 3 tons of ore need to be taken to the coal-field 
per ton of iron produced when ores of the grade of those of 
Lothringen are employed. In the United States the Lake Superior 
region supplies ores for smelting in the Pittsburg district, a thousand 
miles distant (cf p. 401 and pp. 408-9 footnote). 

1 Truran on the Iron Manufacture of Great Britain, pp. iii, iv. 
According to the estimate of the pig-iron production of the world 
given in Engineering (April 8th, 1904), the British iron production 
exceeded that of the rest of the world in i860 and in 1870, though 



398 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

due to the quality of our iron. On the contrary, 
our cheap iron was some of the worst made any- 
where. If we compare European iron-producing 
countries as to the quality and quantity of pro- 
duce, the following were the orders, the higher 
place denoting the higher quality or quantity : ^ — 



Quality of iron 


Quantity of iron 


Sweden 


England 


Belgium 


France 


Prussia 


Austria 


Austria 


Prussia 


France 


Sweden 


England 


Belgium 



The inferiority of our iron was due to the 
sulphur, phosphorus, or other impurities of our 
fuel and ore. It was on this account that steel, 
even in Mr. Bessemer's process, had to be made 
from Swedish iron or other choice metal. And 
the exceptionally fine and high-priced English 
iron made by the Low Moor and Bowling Com- 
panies was chiefly due to the quality of the coal 
used. 

by a narrow margin at the latter date. The estimates of The 
Mineral Industry (vol. i.) for each year, beginning with 1865, show 
the British output as being in excess of that of the rest of the world 
in 1865 and again in 1871, but not in any other year. For 1870 
this latter estimate of the world's production exceeds that of 
Engineering by 160,000 tons in a total of about 12,000,000 tons. 
Till the very end of the seventies, the British production did not 
fall far short of that of all other countries together. A quick 
change of this relation came about coincidently with the intro- 
duction of the Gilchrist-Thomas process. 
1 Canada at the Universal Exhibition 0/1855, P- 296. 



XV OF THE IRON TRADE 399 

[While, in 1862, Great Britain smelted one- 
half of the iron product of the whole world, in 
1904 the share of this country in the world's 
output was but one-fifth of the whole, the make of 
pig iron in the principal iron-producing countries 
in that year being : — 

Tons (of 2,240 lbs.) 

United States 16,497,033 

Germany and Luxemburg . . 9,941,556 

Great Britain 8,562,658 

France 2,951,575 

Russia 2,902,410 

Austria-Hungary 1 1,362,055 

Belgium 1,288,355 

the world's product being estimated at about 
45,000,000 tons. For the second year in suc- 
cession, Great Britain has taken third place as a 
producer of iron. The United States first took 
the lead in 1890, and has maintained it since, 
except in the years 1894 and 1896, when the 
British output slightly exceeded that of the United 
States. The greatest yearly output of the latter 
country was in 1903, when it slightly exceeded 
18,000,000 tons; but between the end of June, 
1904, and the same date in 1905, the output 
exceeded 19,250,000 tons.^ Since 1880 the pig 
iron production of the world has grown to two- 
and-a-half times its amount at that date. Belgium 

1 Hungarian figures for 1903, Austrian for 1904. 

2 For latest figures see p. 367. 



400 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

has doubled its output, Germany has nearly- 
quadrupled its production, the United States 
output has increased to not far short of fivefold, 
while that of France has increased by over 70 per 
cent. Meanwhile, the addition to the output of 
Great Britain, even using the output of 1899, the 
largest on record, for comparison, has been in- 
creased by but little over 20 per cent. 

As already mentioned, one great influence 
operating to favour the increase in the output in 
the neighbouring Continental countries is found 
in the application of the Gilchrist-Thomas process 
for making basic steel from phosphoric ores. 
This has rendered available vast stores of mineral 
previously unworkable, and the extent to which 
this has affected the iron and steel industry of 
Germany in particular is shown by the fact that, 
of the 10,104,941 metric tons of iron produced in 
that country in 1904, no less than 6,300,047 tons 
were Thomas pig.-^ In 1902 the world's steel 
production is estimated to have been 33,350,000 
tons, of which 14,902,000 tons were basic steel, 
from a quality of pig which could not have been 
profitably used by the original Bessemer or 
Siemens processes.^ The great increase in con- 

^ Engineering, Feb. loth, 1905. 

^ Trans. American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 1904. 



XV OF THE IRON TRADE 401 

sumption of iron and steel in Germany, Belgium, 
and France has been able to be met from re- 
sources near at hand, so that this country has 
not felt the increase of demand represented by 
the increase in the world's consumption of 
iron. 

In the United States, the establishment of 
satisfactory means of communication has brought 
vast deposits of rich and easily-mined ore within 
effective reach of the great centres of iron produc- 
tion. Of the 35,500,000 tons of iron ore mined 
in 1902, all but 8,000,000 tons were supplied by 
the Lake Superior region.^ The ores of this 
region are not only rich in iron, but of great 
purity, many of them being admirably adapted for 
the production of steel by the Bessemer process. 
Nearly half the supply from the Lake Superior 
region in 1902 came from the latest developed of 
the five ranges, namely, the Mesabi range, the first 
shipment from which was made in 1892. These 
ores are conveyed 50 miles by rail, then 800 miles 
by water, and then a further 160 miles by rail to 
the furnaces. The organisation of the means of 
transport has been so perfected that, in spite of 
the distance of 1,000 miles between the mine 
and the furnace, the ore can be laid down at the 

* Mineral Resources of the United States, 1902. 

D D 



402 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

furnace at a cost which, combined with the cheap- 
ness of coal in the Pittsburg district, and the 
excellent quality of the coal from which the cele- 
brated Connellsville coke is produced, enables 
that district to rank as far the most important 
iron and steel-producing region in the United 
States.^ In Alabama, the ore and the coal are ob- 
tained in the near neighbourhood of one another. 
Yet the pig-iron production of Pennsylvania in 
1902 was 45 '5 per cent of that of the United 
States, while Alabama ranked fourth among the 
States, with less than one-fifth Pennsylvania's 
output. Proximity of ore and fuel is no longer of 
the same importance as it was in the earlier days 
of the railroad and the steamship. 

The progress of industry during the past 
quarter of 'a century has thus favoured the iron 
and steel industry of Germany and of the United 
States more than that of Great Britain. What is 
the outlook for the future ? 

So far as it depends on ore supplies, the infor- 
mation supplied by Mr. J. S. Jeans to the Cham- 

' The prices at lower lake ports, fixed by the Lake Superior 
Ore Association in 1902, were on the basis of $4.50 per long ton 
(2,240 lbs.) for old range ores, guaranteed 63 per cent metallic iron, 
o'045 per cent phosphorus ; old range non-Bessemer ore, 
guaranteed 60 per cent iron, was on the basis of $3.60. The corre- 
sponding prices of Mesabi ores were $4.00 and $3.20 respectively 
(cf. Engineering, June loth, 1904, p. 827). 



XV OF THE IRON TRADE 403 

berlain Tariff Commission is of a somewhat 
reassuring character. Referring to British ores, 
he states that " the total available supplies have 
not only not been nearly exhausted, but we have 
as yet done little more than touch their fringe. 
It may be true that the best ironstone is not over- 
abundant. It does not follow that the inferior 
grades cannot be utilised under other conditions. 
The shale ironstone cannot be worked so cheaply 
as the mineral now and hitherto produced. But, 
even so, it is presumed that when our best ore is 
gone, we shall be competing with other countries 
that are more or less in a similar position. It is 
certain that neither the United States nor Ger- 
many, at the end of twenty-five years from now, 
will any longer have virgin supplies, so far as our 
present knowledge enables us to make a fore- 
cast."^ And again : " An important question is 
the character, as well as the quantity, of the ores 
that remain. In the older iron-producing coun- 
tries the virgin supplies have been so far exhausted 
that the cost of the remainder, per unit of iron, 
has naturally tended to increase. This remark 
applies to the United States and Germany as well 
as to Great Britain. Hence our competitive posi- 
tion is not perhaps likely to become relatively less 

1 Report of the Tariff Commission, vol. i, § 973. 

D D 2 



404 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

favourable. It is conceivable that it may even 
become more so. 

" Hitherto the country that has depended mainly 
on home ores has probably been in the best posi- 
tion. This remark has certainly applied to the 
three countries dealt with. But is it not possible 
that in the future the country that has the best com- 
mand of foreign supplies will rule ? The position 
that I hold tends to bring under my notice much 
knowledge of such foreign supplies. The great 
iron-making countries are sure to find their home 
ore become dearer from year to year. Their 
foreign supplies need not necessarily increase in 
price. There is hardly any outside country that 
may not become tributary to our demands." ^ At 
present, about one-third of the ore supply of Great 
Britain, representing nearly 40 per cent of the 
iron production, is obtained from abroad.^] 

1 Report of the Tariff Commission, vol. i, §§ 980, 981. The 
same writer, in his Report to the British Iron Trade Association, 
says : " So far as Europe is concerned the only competitive 
countries at present have no advantages over Great Britain. 
Indeed, most of them are less favourably situated, and all of them, 
like Great Britain, are compelled to import larger or smaller 
supplies from year to year, in order to supplement their own 
resources," zi. Journal of the Iron and Steel Institute, No. ii, 1900, 
p. 589. 

^ One further point of interest may be mentioned. Up to 1878, 
the British home consumption of iron exceeded the exports of iron 
and manufactures of iron estimated in the equivalent of pig iron. 
From 1879 to 1893 the export exceeded the home consumption, the 



XV OF THE IRON TRADE 405 

The vast [and, until about 1882 rapid] exten- 
sion of our manufacture has been due to cheap- 
ness, and this is the point of all importance in the 
great mass of cases — in bridges, rails, ships, 
heavy framework, pipes, fences, etc. The use of 
iron is altogether boundless, provided it can be had 
cheap enough. As Dr. Percy remarked, in spite 
of the marvellous advancement of the iron trade 
[at that time], " yet it may be safely affirmed that 
the uses of iron will be vastly more extended 
than at present, and that there is no just ground 
for apprehension lest there should be over-pro- 
duce of this precious metal. Even the railway 
system is in a state of rapid growth, and the 
time will come, when every habitable part of the 
earth's surface will be reticulated with iron or 
steel roads." 

Of the greatly increased supplies of iron re- 
quired in the future general progress of nations, 
we shall continue for many years to supply a 
large part, and to enjoy the wealth and influence 
which it gives us. But this cheapness depends 
upon raising coal from our mines and running it 

former having increased and the latter decreased, broadly speaking. 
Beginning with 1894, the domestic consumption has, except in 
1896 and 1897, again exceeded the export, and this less from 
a falling off in exports than from a growth in domestic con- 
sumption, cf Table 52, Report of the Tariff Commission, vol. i, § 195. 



4o6 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

into our furnaces at a very low price. Now low 
prices cannot hold very long with a consumption 
of coal growing as it has been shown to grow. 
Were there no other demands upon the South 
Wales and Scotch coal-fields than that of the 
iron trade, yet this is of so unlimited an extent 
that sooner or later the voracious iron furnaces 
will exhaust our seams as they exhausted our 
woods. And the result must be a new migration 
of our great trade. 

It is impossible there should be two opinions 
as to the future seat of the iron trade. The 
abundance and purity of both fuel and ore in 
the United States, with the commercial enter- 
prise of American manufacturers, put the ques- 
tion beyond doubt. 

The American iron manufacture was retarded 
by two chief causes : — 

1. The fact that the coal, ore, and flux are not 
in such close conjunction as in England. 

2. The high rate of wages in the United 
States. 

The first obstacle has now disappeared. The 
Americans, of all people in the world, are the 
most forward in driving canals, river navigations, 
and railways where profit can be made. And 



XV OF THE IRON TRADE 407 

while the materials of the iron manufacture have 
been wedded together in the States, our iron- 
masters, as we have seen, are seeking their 
materials at greater distances. The very rail- 
way system, which is said to have saved the 
North of England and the South Staffordshire 
iron-works from a scarcity of materials, has 
enabled the Americans to overcome their great 
obstacle, and thus one advantage of the English 
manufacturer becomes illusory. 

[" In the past era of Britain's unquestioned 
manufacturing supremacy, it was an axiom that, 
as an engineering nation, we were secure because 
iron ore, coal, and limestone not only existed in 
abundance with us, but that ours was the only 
country in which they were found in close 
proximity. Latter-day discoveries have shown 
that even this geological advantage is not con- 
fined to our shores ; but that is of less import- 
ance since so large a part of the ore used for 
steel manufacture is transported great distances. 

" The ores of the Lake Superior district are 
smelted in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, 
Wisconsin, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, 
Kentucky, and Missouri. The Wyoming and New 
Mexico ores are taken to furnaces in Colorado, 
whilst the magnetites of Lake Champlain are 



4o8 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

sent to the Pennsylvania Iron and Steel 
works." ^ 

In Alabama, the Virginias and Tennessee, ore 
is raised in the near neighbourhood of the fur- 
naces, but it is of lower grade than the Lake 
Superior ores, and expectations based on the 
nearness of ore supplies to the fuel have not been 
fully realised. The efficiency of modern means 
of transport in the United States has gone far to 
neutralise the disadvantage of long distances 
separating ore and fuel.^] 

The high rate of wages in a new country like 
the States is a true and natural obstacle to the 
progress of a manufacture, but as we shall see in 
the next chapter, [and as the experience of the 
last quarter of the nineteenth century has demon- 
strated,] it is one which time can overcome. 

If the Americans have obstacles to overcome, 
they have advantages in cheap and good mineral 
fuel, which cannot be over-estimated. The bitu- 
minous coal of Pennsylvania and Ohio is got 
almost for the mere price of quarrying, as coal 

^ Engi7ieering, June lo, 1904, p. 827. 

2 The conditions which determine the most advantageous 
situation for an industry include easy access to the market for its 
product. This, as well as the grade of the ores used, has influ- 
enced the relative growth of the iron industries of Pennsylvania 
and Alabama. " It is one of the surprises of American industry/ 
writes Professor Taussig, " that iron manufacturing on a huge 



XV OF THE IRON TRADE 409 

used to be got in Staffordshire, and it has served 
as the foundation there, as it did here, of a great 
iron-working industry. Pittsburg is the American 
Sheffield and Wolverhampton. 

scale should be undertaken at . . . points, distant alike from ore 
and from coal, and having no natural advantages whatever. The 
coke is moved hundreds of miles by rail from Pennsylvania, and 
meets the ore, which has travelled no less a distance from Lake 
Superior. Ease of access to the western market gives these sites 
an advantage, or at least goes to offset the disadvantage of the 
longer railway haul of the fuel. . . . But the coal region itself, — 
western Pennsylvania and the adjacent parts of Ohio — remain the 
heart and centre of the iron industry." {The Iron Industry in the 
United States, Quarterly Journal of Economics, Feb. 1900, p. 154.) 
The distribution of iron-smelting in western Germany is similarly 
affected by considerations relating to the marketing of the product, 
as well as by those relating to supplies of ore and fuel (cf. p. 397). 



CHAPTER XVI 

THE PROBLEM OF THE TRADING BODIES 

The position of this country in future years will 
not be rightly appreciated if we confine our atten- 
tion near home. Without foreign commerce, but 
with our coal, it is possible we might have done 
much that we have done, but we could never 
have supported such masses of busy population, 
enjoyed such a variety of foreign products, or 
reared such a great system of industry. We 
should have been a happy, ingenious, self- 
dependent people, but not numerous nor rich, 
and neither endowed with our present world- 
wide influence nor subjected to its dangers and 
responsibilities. 

But as we are, unfettered commerce, vindicated 
by our political economists, and founded on the 
material basis of our coal resources, has made 
the several quarters of the globe our willing 
tributaries. "Though England," it has been 



CH. XVI PROBLEM OF TRADING BODIES 41 1 

truly said, " were one vast rock, where not an 
acre of corn had ever waved, still those four 
hundred millions of men, whose labour is repre- 
sented by the machinery of the country, would 
extort an abundance of corn from all the sur- 
rounding States." 1 The plains of North America 
and Russia are our corn-fields ; Chicago and 
Odessa our granaries ; Canada and the Baltic 
are our timber-forests ; Australasia contains our 
sheep-farms, and in Argentina and on the 
western prairies of North America are our herds 
of oxen ; Peru sends her silver, and the gold of 
South Africa and Australia flows to London ; the 
Hindus and the Chinese grow tea for us, and our 
coffee, sugar, and spice plantations are in all the 
Indies. Spain and France are our vineyards, and 
the Mediterranean our fruit-garden ; and our 
cotton-grounds, which for long have occupied 
the Southern United States, are now being 
extended everywhere in the warm regions of the 
earth. 

But great as is our own system, it is not the 
whole. Commerce is undoubtedly making its 
way by its own subtle force, and is uniting the 

1 H. ¥z.\thaxm., Political Economy of Railroads, 'p. 113. 
The horse-power of the machinery of the country is, of course, 
far greater now than at that time. 



412 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

parts of the globe into a web of interchanges, in 
which the pecuHar riches of each are made useful 
to all. The sum of human happiness is thus 
being surely increased, but we should be hasty 
in assuming that the growth of general commerce 
ensures for this island everlasting riches and 
industrial supremacy. 

We ought not to forget that the enjoyments of 
a commercial country are not without probable 
drawbacks. We are no longer independent. The 
rise and decadence of other trading nations is no 
longer a matter of indifference to us. Our profits 
depend upon comparative, not absolute, riches, 
and as an individual nation we may find harm in 
foreign wealth. 

And our anxiety must be indefinitely increased 
in reflecting that, while other countries mostly 
subsist upon the annual and ceaseless incotne of 
the harvest, we are drawing more and more upon 
a capital which yields no annual interest, but once 
turned to light and heat and motive power, is gone 
for ever into space. 

So far indeed as trade is dependent on legisla- 
tion and social and political conditions, its future 
must be almost wholly uncertain and beyond the 
reach of reasoning. The development of history 
cannot be predicted, for in the " still and mental 



XVI PROBLEM OF TRADING BODIES 413 

parts " of a single unborn individual may reside 
the forces which are to move the world. But 
industry and riches must have a material basis, 
and it is in this respect their future course comes 
somewhat within the grasp of science. The 
principles of economy have been so far investi- 
gated by our own writers that with given 
material conditions the tendency of trade may 
often be certainly inferred. And if we may 
assume that the spirit of commercial freedom 
will spread and suffer no serious relapse, it is 
quite possible to foresee the necessary course of 
trade. 

Taking commerce as the free growth of the 
instincts of gain, we find it resolved into a case 
of complex attractions and perturbations, as 
between several gravitating bodies. Trade 
between two bodies is a case of simple attrac- 
tion, each naturally attracting and buying the 
articles which are made with greater comparative 
facility and cheapness by the other, paying with 
its own comparatively cheaper products. There 
is or should be no competition between them ; 
each State should develop the kinds of industry 
and sources of wealth opposite to those of the 
other State. Free interchange of products then- 
raises the economy of labour to its highest pitch. 



414 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

In proportion, too, as the circumstances or in- 
dustries of two States are more diverse will trade 
between them be more to the advantage of each. 
Two countries whose circumstances are exactly- 
alike can have no motive to trade with each 
other. Prices will bear the same proportions in 
each, and thus will leave no margin of profit on 
exchange, even to pay the freight. And this 
result will hold, too, even if one country were 
naturally richer in every way than another, 
provided it were in every particular equally 
richer. Thus, if a man with a given amount of 
labour could raise both twice as much corn and 
twice as much wool in Australia as in England, 
we could have no trade with Australia in these 
articles. But if the same labour could raise 
twice as much wool but only just as much corn 
there as here, profit will evidently be gained on 
the exchange of wool and corn. To the writings 
of Ricardo, and especially of John Stuart Mill,"^ 

1 Principles of Political Economy, book iii, chap. xvii. ; or, 
Essays on some unsettled Questions of Political Economy. Essay i. 

The subject " Of the Competition of different Countries in the same 
Market " is treated by J. S. Mill. Principles, book iii, chap. xxv. 

For discussion of some disputed points in the theory of the 
subject, reference may be made to Jevons' Theory of Political 
Economy, chap, iv, pp. 141-6 ; to Bastable's Theory of Inter- 
national Trade, Appendix C ; and to Professor Edgeworth's 
articles in the Economic Journal, vol. iv, on the Theory of 
International Values. 



xvi PROBLEM OF TRADING BODIES 4:5 

we are indebted for the discovery and distinct 
explanation of these principles. 

When three States trade with each other, the 
problem is one of some complexity. A State 
possessing any peculiar kind of riches may profit 
and confer profit by trade with each of the other 
two, and the highest advantage will arise when 
each devotes its labour exclusively to kinds of 
industry in which it has comparatively the 
greatest facilities, or natural riches. If two of 
the States, however, are of similar circumstances, 
they cannot trade with each other, but only each 
of them with the third. And the total trade 
will have to be shared between the two similar 
States in some proportion to their absolute capa- 
cities of production. For if one had a larger 
share than this, its powers would be harder 
pushed and prices somewhat raised, which would 
at once cause trade to flow more towards the 
other similar State. If one of these similar 
States were to grow in absolute powers of pro- 
duction, it must take a greater share of the trade 
with the third State and positively abstract a 
portion of the trade between the other two, to 
the injury, not of the third, but of the second 
similar State. 

The question is now sufficiently complex to 



41 6 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

illustrate our actual position. In reality the 
countries with which we trade present a problem 
of almost infinite complexity, but for simplicity 
we may form a few great groups according to 
similarities of condition. Five groups may be 
made to comprehend all countries with which we 
have relations of importance to our present 
subject.^ 

1. Great Britain, capable for the present of 
indefinitely producing all products depending on 
the use of coal. 

2. Continental Europe, capable of an inde- 
finite production of artistic, luxurious, or semi- 
tropical products, but debarred by comparative 
want of coal from competition with us. 

1 The argument presented in the remainder of this chapter has 
been left as Jevons framed it, with but trivial verbal changes here 
and there for the most part. The reader should bear in mind that 
it relates to the situation forty years ago. Some of the changes 
which are foreseen in it, and expected to occur within a century, 
are already in evidence, though less than half that interval has 
elapsed since it was written. 

In reference to the position of Germany, as well as with regard 
to the industrial development of the United States, serious 
modifications of the grouping of countries which follows must have 
been made had the chapter had the advantage of revision by its 
author at the present time. To attempt to divine what those 
alterations might have been seemed a task so full of risk that it 
were better abandoned. The general argument can be applied to 
the existing situation by the reflecting reader, without the aid of a 
recasting of a chapter which is reckoned among the classical 
literature of economics. 



XVI PROBLEM OF TRADING BODIES 417 

3. Tropical, Eastern, and other regions, capable 
of supplying food and raw materials, but of 
climate and other natural conditions wholly dif- 
ferent from those of Great Britain. 

4. Australasian, African, and American colonies, 
capable of an immense production of raw mate- 
rials, but endowed with no considerable coal 
resources. 

, 5. The United States of North America, 
capable of an immense production of corn and 
raw materials, but also possessing coal deposits 
many times as great as our own. 

At present Great Britain carries on a growing 
trade with all the other four bodies. The older 
nations of Europe, indeed, check the trade by 
restrictions upon the repeal of which we cannot 
certainly count. Our trade with Western Europe, 
too, is of a different character from that we enjoy 
elsewhere, because as the ancient seat of the arts, 
and endowed with considerable mineral riches, 
we find there our own superiors in many finer 
kinds of manufacture. With respect to France 
and Western Europe, then, we are mainly pro- 
ducers or traders in raw materials. Towards the 
Tropical, Eastern, Colonial, and American bodies, 
in fact to the world generally, we are manufac- 
turers, seeking materials to operate, or food to 

E E 



41 8 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

live upon, and giving in exchange the products 
of our machine labour. 

Suppose trade to spread according to that 
spirit of progress which seems almost the estab- 
lished order of things. For many years to 
come our relations will remain of the same 
kind as at present. Europe will receive more 
and more crude iron, coal,^ metals, and other 
materials, returning food, or elegant articles, 
while other parts of the world will take more 
finished products and return their appropriate 
raw materials. Wherever we trade it will be 
upon coal, or its more or less refined products. 
There is no saying that we may not thus 
progress for the greater part of a century, 
allowing our manufacturing population to quad- 
ruple itself, and our industry to multiply itself 
many times. 

Let us now consider the changes that are 
going on within the several trading bodies. In 
Great Britain the agricultural population is about 
stationary, and its offspring has to find employ- 
ment in the towns, or else to migrate. So 
familiar, too, is emigration becoming to us, so 

^ A feature of our coal exports which is provocative of much 
anxious comment is the large amount supplied to Europe. Of the 
46,255,547 tons of coal exported in 1904, no less than 36,514,017 
tons were sent to various European countries. 



XVI PROBLEM OF TRADING BODIES 419 

great are the facilities and foreign attractions 
to it, and so congenial is it to the British 
character to seek independence and adventure 
across the seas, that a continuous exodus of 
our population is already a necessity. Our 
emigrants either reside as agents and merchants 
in foreign ports and countries where they 
powerfully stimulate trade with England, or they 
settle in the colonies and States of which they 
increase the productive powers. And we must 
not forget that the kindred nations of Germany 
are suffering an exodus almost comparable to 
our own, and are similarly contributing to 
the growth of our colonies and the United 
States. 

Supposing protective and restrictive tendencies 
not to gain ground, we shall continue to grow on 
the one side as a great manufacturing body, 
while the colonies and most foreign States will 
find a source of wealth and advantage in sup- 
plying us with raw materials and developing the 
kinds of industry for which their facilities are 
almost boundless as compared with ours. 

But the growth of production cannot go on 
ad infinituTn ; natural limits will ultimately be 
reached on the side both of the agricultural and 
of the manufacturing country, even if no political 

E E 2 



420 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

events intervene to check the trade. Suppose 
some event to occur and prevent our growing 
population from meeting a corresponding increase 
of subsistence. From estabHshed habits of 
prosperity and early marriage we shall continue 
to grow with a certain inertia, but the rising 
generation will not find the comfort and early 
independence they were brought up to expect. 
They will turn to emigration as a congenial re- 
source, and apply their labour to stimulate trade 
and the production of raw materials in many 
parts of the world. The corresponding demand 
for our manufactures will then tend to support 
or revive the progress of industry at home, 
and maintain the long existing rate of multi- 
plication. 

It is by a process of this sort that the recent 
emigration,^ incited to a great extent by the gold 
discoveries, has contributed to the late extra- 
ordinary increase of wealth. It has encouraged 
our population to adopt new habits of early 
marriage. And in America, Australia, Africa, 
Asia, and the Pacific Archipelago there are open 
lands and undeveloped natural resources which 
still admit of a vast extension and continuance 
of the same process. 

1 The emigration of the fifties. 



XVI PROBLEM OF TRADING BODIES 421 

Not to speak of the maritime nations, especially 
the Spanish and the Dutch, who preceded us in 
extensive colonisation, the custom of planting 
out colonies with us dates back three centuries, 
to the time of Queen Elizabeth. As early as 
1 68 1 an English writer^ clearly explained that 
plantations were not an exhausting drain upon 
the mother country, but rather "a wheel to set 
most of our other trades agoing. " 

"The plantations," he said, "do not depopu- 
late, but rather increase, or improve our people," 
and they " have increast the profitable employ- 
ments, not only by building of ships, carrying 
out our manufactures and products thither, but 
also by returning theirs hither to supply our- 
selves, and also a great part of the rest of the 
world." 

When we look either to the trade the colonies 
carry on with us, to the internal happiness they 
enjoy, or the benefits which they promise to the 
world in the future, it is impossible to overvalue 
the Anglo-Saxon spirit of colonisation.^ But when 
we follow out a policy of free colonisation to its 

' John Houghton. Collection of Letters for the Improvement of 
Husbandry and Trade. London, 1681, pp. 35, 36. 

^ See the admirable lecture of Prof. J. E. Caimes to the Dublin 
Young Men's Christian Association " On Colonization and Colonial 
Government," Oct. 26, 1864 ; in the volume ol Political Essays. 



422 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

necessary ultimate result, the prospect is more 
pleasing to a citizen of the world than to a 
citizen of this small kingdom. For free and 
voluntary emigration enables and induces our 
home population to go on multiplying at high 
rates, otherwise impossible. Not only, then, have 
we a growing population, but a growing margin 
also, who, even in times of the highest prosperity, 
must seek abroad the subsistence not to be had 
at home. The longer our prosperity continues 
unslackened, the more necessary a free outlet will 
become. But the moment to be apprehended is 
when the first general check to our prosperity 
and growth at home is encountered. Then the 
larger part of the rising generation will find 
themselves superfluous, and must either leave 
the country in a vast body, or remain here to 
create painful pressure and poverty. A less 
active people than the English might endure the 
latter alternative, and sink by degrees into the 
stationary condition which characterised some 
Continental nations, and England herself in the 
early part of the eighteenth century. But we 
may well refuse to look forward to such a change 
here, so painful must be the disappointment of 
the best hopes which must accompany it. Nor 
could we feel sure that our popular institutions 



XVI PROBLEM OF TRADING BODIES 423 

could pass unharmed through a period of general 
pressure and want of employment among a vast 
artisan population/ 

The alternative, I say, is wholesale emigration. 
" The only immediate remedy," says Mr. Senior,^ 
" for an actual excess in one class of the popula- 
tion, is the ancient and approved one, coloniam 

deducere It is a remedy preparatory to 

the adoption and necessary to the safety of every 
other." We have seen in the chapter on Popu- 
lation how our agricultural districts in 181 1-3 1 
passed through a period of pauperism and excess 
of population due to an unwarranted growth of 
population. The gravest fears for our social 
soundness were excited, and the evil was only 
overcome by extensive migration into our towns 
and colonies. The Scotch Highlands, and more 
lately Ireland, have presented still more striking 
instances of the choice between pressure at home 

1 A realisation of the distress due to the causes here indicated 
may perhaps be found in the depression of the eighties, though its 
early occurrence is distinctly contrary to the anticipations ex- 
pressed by Jevons. It was certainly accompanied by a greatly 
reduced rate of increase of coal production, and by active 
emigration. Perhaps it may be assigned to other causes than the 
development here contemplated, and we may regard the experience 
of that time as a foretaste of what is to be looked for later on, 
if the industrial development of the country continue on existing 
lines. 

2 Three Lectures on Wages. Preface, p. v. 



424 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

and migration abroad. It is only a question of 
time when our whole population, including that 
of our present most progressive towns, will be 
placed in the same dilemma, and the result must 
be a vast and continuous exodus. 

But now comes the most serious point of all. 
After a certain period emigration will begin to 
have a very different effect upon the destinies of 
this country from that it now exercises. Instead 
of extending across the seas an agricultural 
system in harmonious union with our own 
manufacturing system, it will develop, or rather 
complete, abroad systems of iron and coal indus- 
try in direct competition with ours. The process 
will be of a two-sided nature. 

It is well known that in spreading over a new 
country, settlers are naturally apt to exhaust the 
virgin soil they get so cheap, regardless of 
manures and agricultural arts by which its fer- 
tility might be maintained. Upon a process of 
this kind the able argument of Prof. Cairnes in 
his Slave Power is founded ; but exhaustive 
agriculture and migration are the necessary 
results, in any country or social system, of a 
boundless supply of rich lands. It must pay 
better to take the cream off the land when the 
farmer can freely select new farms of untouched 



XVI PROBLEM OF TRADING BODIES 425 

richness. A gradual inland migration is the 
result, and so rapidly has this gone on in the 
United States towards the West, that already 
the settlers in the [States of Washington, Idaho, 
Montana, and Wyoming ^] are on the verge of 
deserts that never can be cultivated. And we 
cannot but acquiesce in the apparently extra- 
vagant estimates of American writers concern- 
ing the future growth of their population. So 
long as there is security for life and property 
left, people will multiply over lands so rich 
that, as an American orator said, " if you 
tickle them with a hoe, they will laugh with a 
harvest." 

To appreciate the growth of the American 
people we need only look upon the results of the 
American census. 

' The region described by Jevons as " Minnesota, Washington, 
and Nebraska territories " is now covered by the States of North 
and South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and 
Washington. The territory of Minnesota became part of the 
territory of Dakota in 1861, and the designations of i860 appear to 
have been those of which Jevons made use. The first three States 
are classed as semi-arid, the other four as arid. Of course the 
division between semi-arid and arid regions does not conform 
precisely to political boundaries. The utilisation of considerable 
areas by means of irrigation yet leaves it generally true, so far as 
may be foreseen, that the deserts can never be cultivated. (Cf 
The Territorial Expansion of the United States in the Monthly 
Summary of Commerce and Finance, May, 1904, p. 4326, and 
Report of the Twelfth Census, vol. vi, pp. 820-867.) 



426 



THE COAL QUESTION chap. 



POPULATION OF THE UNITED STATES ^ 



Year 


Population 


Numerical increase 


Rate per cent of 
increase 


1790 


3.929.214 






1800 


5,3o8;483 


1,379.269 


35 


1810 


7,239,881 


1,931,398 


36 


1820 


9,638,453 


2,398.572 


33 


1830 


12,866,020 


3,227,567 


33 


1840 


17.069,453 


4,203,433 


33 


1850 


23,191,876 


6,122,423 


36 


i860 


31,443,321 


8,251,445 


36 


1870 


38,558,371 


7,115,050 


29 


1880 


50,155,783 


1 1. 597.412 


30 


1890 


62,947.714 


12,791,931 


26 


1900 


76,085,794 


13,138,080 


21 



If we compare the above with the corre- 
sponding results for our population,^ it will be 
seen that we have scarcely anything here to 
equal the rate of American increase in constancy 
or amount. The general rate of growth in 
America during the first sixty years of the 
nineteenth century was double our highest rate 
(18 per cent) for the country as a whole, and 
equal to the rate of progress of Glamorgan in the 



1 Cf. Twelfth Census of the United States, vol. i, p. xx. The 
figures relate to the continental United States, not including 
Alaska. 

^ Chapter x. 



XVI PROBLEM OF TRADING BODIES 427 

thirty years preceding 1861, or of our manu- 
facturing towns at their period of most rapid 
increase. 

The very emigration which checked the 
rapidity of our growth has contributed to main- 
tain that of America, and nothing is more prob- 
able in political matters than that its popula- 
tion will continue to grow both by internal multi- 
plication and by vast and ceaseless increments 
from Europe. With such a growth of population, 
agriculture must soon be carried to its first 
limits. Within a century the choicest lands will 
have been taken up,^ and the second and third rate 
lands must be settled, or the old exhausted lands 
revived by more diligent culture. Agriculture 
will begin to lose its extremely easy and profitable 
character in the States. 

On the other hand, coal, yet to be had at the 
mere cost of quarrying, will offer more and more 
tempting employment comparatively to agricul- 
ture. In other words, labour, no longer drawn 
away by the superior attractions of agriculture, 

' Already, within less than half a century, the choicest lands 
have been taken up for the most part. The opening up of the 
Canadian West provides attractions to those who are drawn to an 
agricultural life, so that, so far as North America as a whole is 
concerned, the profits of agriculture still afford a strong counter- 
attraction to the wages of manufacturing industry, and population 
moves freely across the international boundary line. 



428 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

will become abundant in manufacture, and at 
last a sound system of metallurgical industry 
will grow up on the banks of the Ohio, capable 
of almost indefinite extension.^ 

It is this decadence of agriculture joined to the 
rise of a manufacturing system which most dis- 
tinctly threatens our commercial position. Corn 
will be growing dearer in the States, while coal 
and iron are growing dearer here. The indus- 
trial conditions of England and the States will 
thus approximate to equilibrium, and the advan- 
tages of trade will diminish. We shall neither 
buy corn from them, nor sell iron articles to 
them. And at the same time America will tend 
to supplant us in the European market for iron 
and other crude materials, and in all parts of the 
world in the market for textile and useful manu- 
factured articles in general. 

Then, if not before, the continuous multiplica- 
tion of our home population and industry will 
receive a check, and a definitive choice of whole- 
sale emigration or a change of habits will be 

1 The development of the iron and steel industry in the Pittsburg 
district has more than realised the anticipations justly entertained 
by Jevons. In a quarter of a century from the time at which he 
wrote, the United States had taken the first place among the 
nations of the world as a producer of iron and steel. 

In reference to the events of the present, the succeeding paragraph 
in the text has very great significance. 



XVI PROBLEM OF TRADING BODIES 429 

presented to us. And it must be further ob- 
served that by the time in question our con- 
sumption of coal will certainly be several times 
as great as at present. ^ Our total available 
stores of coal divided by the annual consump- 
tion will give a proportionately shorter period 
of even stationary duration. And while our 
colonial states will be growing in the vigour 
of youth, receiving our whole offspring, and 
establishing new currents of trade far from 
our shores, our strength will tend to fail 
continuously. 

Of course at the worst we shall not be devoid 
of many resources. Our position, "anchored by 
the side of Europe," and close to the terrestrial 
centre of the globe, gives us a claim to the 
carrying and trading business of the world, which 
previously belonged to our close neighbours the 
Dutch. And our manufactures, though they 
must diminish in size and importance, may im- 
prove in finish and artistic merit. Our work 

' If we are to regard the development of manufacturing industry 
in the United States as the sign that the time here referred to by 
Jevons has already arrived, its early arrival results in the fact that 
our coal consumption is much less than he expected it would be 
when the events he indicated should occur. The early industrial 
maturity of the United States illustrates the difficulties of fore- 
casting economic events. The situation contemplated for Great 
Britain may yet be far distant. 



430 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

will be that of the trinket and the watch rather 
than that of the herculean engine — handiwork 
rather than machine work. We shall probably 
approximate to the manufacturing condition of 
Western Europe, and the extreme elegance of 
our earthenware, glass, and many small manu- 
factures raises the hope that we may attain a 
high rank in artistic manufactures. 

But excellence in such smaller matters can ill 
compensate for the loss of our supremacy in the 
elements of engineering and maritime success. 
When navigation and the construction of a fleet 
is a pure question of coal mining and iron me- 
tallurgy, it is hard to see how we can insure 
that invincibility on the seas which is essential 
to the safety of an insular nation dependent on 
commerce for its very bread. 

The rate of our progress and exhaustion must 
depend greatly upon the legislation of colonies 
and foreign States. Should France revert to 
a less enlightened commercial policy ; should 
Europe maintain or extend a prohibitory system ; 
should the Northern States succeed in erecting 
a permanent Morrill tariff for the benefit of 
Pennsylvanian manufacturers ; and should the 
tendency of all our colonies towards Protection 
increase, the progress of trade may indeed be 



XVI PROBLEM OF TRADING BODIES 431 

vastly retarded. Under these circumstances the 
present rapid rate of our growth may soon be 
somewhat checked. The introduction of rail- 
ways, the repeal of the Corn Laws, the sudden 
settlement of our Australian colonies, may prove 
exceptional events. Then, after a period of 
somewhat painful depression, we may fall into 
a lower rate of progress, that can be maintained 
for a lengthened period, passing out of sight. 

But on the whole Free Trade is likely to 
extend itself on the Continent. Our colonies, 
after a brief experience, may see through their 
mistaken and highly prejudicial views ; and the 
Americans will hardly succeed in their apparent 
object of rendering their continent a self-con- 
tained Chinese-like empire, unknown to European 
trade and intercourse.' And iii -'other parts of the 
world — Africa, Asia, and South America — there 



^ That the expectations of the Free-traders of his time, which 
Jevons shared, and to which he here gives expression, have not 
been fulfilled, is a famiUar fact, the reasons for which need not be 
discussed here. A return to high Protection in the United States, 
and an unmistakable tendency in our leading colonies to follow in 
the same path, are also facts not in agreement with Jevons' hopes. 
Though there are some indications of a change of policy by the 
United States in the not distant future, the outlook is too uncertain 
to justify a definite forecast in that sense. 

The correspondence of the history of the last twenty-five or 
thirty years with the possible sequence of events sketched in the 
preceding paragraph of the text is worth particular notice. 



432 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

is sure to be a general, and perhaps a very great, 
opening for future trade. 

It may reasonably be questioned whether a 
great and continuous increase of our industry is 
desirable from a national point of view. But for 
those colonies and countries which trade with us 
it is an unalloyed benefit. Corn would be a drug 
in North America, animal products in South 
America, and wool in Australia, but for the 
market we offer ; and were not political economy 
a rather rare and difficult study, the inhabitants 
of the States, and of our colonies generally, 
would be aware that the development of the 
pastoral and agricultural powers of a new country 
is the first and most appropriate source of riches. 
It is the very profits thus gained that render 
wages high, and labour, as it is said, too scarce 
for manufactures to exist. To receive the pro- 
ducts of a mature system of labour, like that 
of England, in return for the raw products of 
the soil, is the true mode of creating a rich and 
populous colony. When the soil is fully occupied 
it will be time to think of imitating and competing 
with older countries. 

But manufacturers are always the first, as 
Adam Smith and Sir Robert Peel remarked, to 
desire artificial restrictions. Colonial manufac- 



XVI PROBLEM OF TRADING BODIES 433 

turers constantly aver that the overflowing 
pauper population of the old world enables it 
to undersell the productions of a colony. And 
they seize upon a paragraph in Mr. Mill's 
Political Economy^ in which that eminent writer 
cautiously recommends Protection as a convenient 
mode of giving a first impulse to a branch of 
manufacture. Mr. Mill can hardly know the evil 
which his words are working, misapplied and 
distorted in meaning as they are for interested 
purposes. 

It is, indeed, a reproach constantly hurled upon 
England, even by her own offspring, that she 
only removed her restrictions — her navigation 
laws, her prohibition of the export of machinery, 
and of the import of continental manufactures — 
when they were no longer necessary. It is, 
however, quite doubtful whether we derived any 
real benefit from the navigation laws ; there is 
no doubt that the other restrictions were a great 
injury to our progress, and in no way assisted 
the rise of our arts. The attempted strict ex- 
clusion of continental manufactures greatly con- 
duced to our stationary condition in the first 
half of the eighteenth century, and I am wholly 

1 Principles, etc. ; book v, chap, x ; third edition, vol. ii, pp. 
507, 508. 

F F 



434 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

unable to see how it in the least forwarded those 
great inventions in metallurgy and mechanism 
which did cause our rise. Yet we continually 
meet in foreign authors such remarks as these : 
" The requisite skill and development of the 
mineral resources have been obtained by a cen- 
tury of experience, when foreign competition was 
religiously excluded by prohibitory duties, until 
England could make iron cheaper than all the 
world, and since then domestic competition has 
cheapened the processes, and reduced the cost 
to the lowest practicable limit." 

The falsity of the statement as regards the 
point in view is apparent. From the very same 
writer I have already quoted the statement that 
about the middle of the eighteenth century Eng- 
land imported four-fifths of the iron she con- 
sumed} The high price of iron had long 
retarded, not forwarded, the progress of the 
engine, the railway, and the mechanical works 
generally by which alone our manufacturing 
system could be adequately developed. 

Our growth has been nourished by freedom, 
not by restrictions ; and if kindred colonies and 
nations and foreign States wish to raise the 

' P. 379 supra. 



XVI PROBLEM OF TRADING BODIES 435 

world into the earliest and highest state of 
wealth, they will push trade to its utmost 
without jealousy of the immediate wealth it 
confers upon us, in virtue of our coal resources 
and our well-developed skill. 

Any attempt on the part of foreign nations to 
cripple the development of our trade injures 
them far more than us. The Morrill tariff^ 
almost wholly recoils upon the nation which 
submits to it. The effect upon us is seen in a 
temporary and inconsiderable check to one or 
two of our branches of industry. Its effect 
upon America is to cut it off from intercourse 
with the rest of the civilized world, to destroy 
its maritime influence, and to arrest, as far as 
human interference can arrest, the development 
of a great State. No doubt it enables a manufac- 
turing interest to grow half a century or more 
before its time ; but just so much as one interest 
is forcibly promoted so much are other interests 
forcibly held back. And no system of industry 
thus requiring the unnatural stimulus of govern- 
ment protection can compete with foreign systems 

' If read as applying to 1905, Dingley tariff must be read 
instead of Morrill tariff, both here and wherever reference to the 
latter occurs. 

F F 2 



436 THE COAL QUESTION ch. xvi 

stimulated by natural circumstances. When 
manufacture is naturally more profitable in 
America than in Britain we shall be supplanted, 
and not before then. The advent of that period 
can be hastened only by freedom of industry 
and trade, not by legislative devices. 



CHAPTER XVII 

OF TAXES AND THE NATIONAL DEBT 

A FEW pages may be given to considering the 
policy of imposing duties and restrictions with 
a view to limit the consumption of our fuel. 

The prohibition of the export of coal is the 
first step which naturally suggests itself^ and it 
has often been advocated. Dr. Buckland, when 
asked, before the Committee on the Coal Trade 
of 1830, his opinion of the policy of allow- 
ing exportation, answered : "It is permitting 
foreisrners to consume the vitals of our own 
prosperity. I consider coals the stamina upon 
which the manufacturing prosperity of the country 
primarily depends ; and I think it our duty not 
to spare one ounce of coals to any person but 
ourselves." 

The imposition of a more or less heavy duty 
on the export of coal is certainly the way we 
should commence a prohibitory system. Such a 



438 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

duty might be imposed for any of the following 
purposes : — 

1st. To raise revenue. 

2nd. To cripple the competing manufactures of 
other nations. 

3rd. To discourage exportation, and thus spare 
our stores of coal 

It is plain that the first purpose is more or 
less inconsistent with the other two. 

I can see no general reasons against levying 
revenue by an export duty. Sir R. Peel adopted 
as a principle of English finance, "that with 
respect to exports there shall be no duty leviable. 
I am unwilling to make any exception to this 
principle." ^ And to the present day the rule 
has, I believe, been upheld without exception. 
Yet there are no principles of economic science, 
so far as I know, bearing against export duties 
that do not equally bear against import duties. 
There are only the general arguments against 
any restrictions on commercial intercourse. In 
fact. Sir R. Peel had himself previously said, 
when proposing the coal-tax of 1842 : " I must 
say I cannot conceive any more legitimate object 
of duty than coal exported to foreign countries. 

1 HansarcHs Debates^ third series, vol. Ixxvii, p. 478. 



XVII TAXES AND NATIONAL DEBT 439 

I speak of a reasonable and just duty, and I say- 
that a tax levied on an article produced in this 
country — an element of manufactures — necessary 
to manufactures — contributing by its export to 
increase the competition with our own manufac- 
tures — I think that a tax on such an article is a 
perfectly legitimate source of revenue."^ 

Lord Overstone, too, asserted in his speech on 
the Commercial Treaty with France — a speech 
distinguished by his usual clearness and sound- 
ness of thought — ^that an export duty on a com- 
modity of peculiar value and limited supply, like 
coal, may be an advantageous and legitimate 
source of revenue. 

Instances of export duties of a similar kind 
are not wanting, but they are rather unfortunate 
instances. The Spaniards taxed Peruvian gold ; 
the Sicilian Government, sulphur ; Russia, its 
products of tallow, hemp, and flax. In India we 
raise a large revenue of the kind on opium, and 
the SlaVe States proposed an impost on cotton. 
Too high a duty, indeed, is apt to draw out 
foreign competition, and ruin at once the trade 
and revenue, as the sulphur trade of Italy was 
for a time ruined. But we do not fear com- 
petition with Newcastle coal ; we rather desire 

1 Hansard's Debates, third series, vol. Ixi, p. 448. 



440 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

to avoid foreign competition to buy it, and there 
seems accordingly to be no abstract objection 
to a duty on coal exported. 

But I think that Lord Overstone, in advocating 
such a duty as a source of revenue, must have 
overlooked that peculiar relation of coal to our 
shipping interest which I have endeavoured to 
explain in chapter xiii. The fact is, that such a 
tax would be paid by ourselves as entirely as the 
tax on dogs or men-servants, with the further 
disadvantage that we should pay it through and to 
the discouragement of our navigation. It would 
be equivalent to a duty on outward tonnage. 

For as our coals, in nearly every part of the 
world, meet and compete with inferior native 
coals or other fuel, the freight and price have to 
be lowered until the competition is successful. 
If a 45-. coal duty were imposed, our shipowners 
would receive about \s. less freight to most places,^ 

1 The figure of 4^. has been left as in the earlier editions, in 
spite of the fact that, at the lower range of freights prevalent now, 
as compared with forty years ago, a deduction of four shillings from 
freight rates would convert a profit into a large loss in the majority 
of cases. In fact, the deduction of 4^. could not be made generally 
at the present time. The arguments placed before the recent 
Royal Commission tended to show that shipowners had felt 
severely the burden of the tax of \s. per ton imposed in igoi. 

If he could have revised his book to-day, Jevons would probably 
have altered the discussion of a hypothetical tax and its results 
into a consideration of the actual tax and its consequences. The 
reader is left to apply Jevons' principles to current facts for himself. 



XVII TAXES AND NATIONAL DEBT 441 

which consumers would ultimately pay in the shape 
of increased inward freights and prices of foreign 
articles. At the same time it must be allowed that 
the reduction of outward freights would stimulate 
the exportation of any other heavy commodities 
like bricks, cement, earthenware, slates, flag-stones,, 
paving-stones, salt, pig iron, etc., which could be 
found profitably to take the place of coal as 
ballast. On the whole it may be said that there 
are even more reasons against a tax on coal as a 
source of revenue than might be urged concerning 
most taxes. It would be paid out of our own 
pockets as much as the income-tax, and would act 
besides as a restriction on commerce and a burden 
on navigation. 

To impose a duty on coals to injure continental 
manufactures in the sea-board towns, is a purpose 
that no English statesman in the present day 
would avow. It was on the contrary argued by 
Mr. Gladstone and others, in carrying the Com- 
mercial Treaty with France (of i860) through the 
House of Commons, that a large manufacturing 
interest on the French coasts, dependent on 
English coal, would be an excellent guarantee for 
the peace and extended intercourse we so ardently 
desire with that country. 

There only remains the question of a partially 



442 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

or completely prohibitory duty on the simple 
and legitimate ground of self-defence, to save 
our posterity, if possible, from the misery and 
danger that a failure of our coal mines would 
bring upon them. If, indeed, we are again to 
resort to restrictions on trade, it is not apparent 
why we repealed the Corn Laws, which might 
have been far more efficient in preventing the 
exhaustion of our coal mines than any measures 
we are now likely to adopt. Nor is it quite 
apparent why we should stop the export of 
coal and not that of pig iron, every ton of which 
represents the consumption of about two tons 
of coal. The question of a prohibitory tax is but 
a part of the general question whether we do 
wisely in allowing a suicidal development of 
trade, and this question will be again referred to 
in my concluding remarks. 

It is hardly necesary to discuss a duty on all 
coal raised from the pit's mouth. Such a duty 
of 2s. per ton was proposed by Pitt in 1784, at the 
beginning of his great financial career. But it 
was on the express ground that sea-borne coal 
was already burdened with duties of long stand- 
ing, and that equalisation of burdens was de- 
sirable. He intended, too, to exempt manufac- 
turers from the impost as far as possible. But 



XVII TAXES AND NATIONAL DEBT 443 

only a week after proposing the tax Mr. Pitt 
said, with the candour that distinguished his 
greatness, " From the information he had been 
able to collect upon the subject, he found men's 
minds so adverse to the tax, and that it would be 
necessary to make such a variety of exceptions 
and regulations in order to prevent it from having 
an injurious effect on one or other of our manu- 
factures, that he thought it more expedient to 
abandon the tax."-' 

The character of a general tax on coal was 
truly stated by Robert Bald. "It would un- 
nerve the very sinews of our trade, and be a 
death-blow to our flourishing manufactories. 
Were our determined enemy set in council, to 
deliberate upon a plan to wound us in a vital 
point as a nation, the advising the imposing of 
this tax would be the most successful he could 
possibly suggest." And again he says truly, 
" A small tax on the ton of coal would be a 
heavy tax on the ton of iron. The whole of our 
mining concerns depend as to their prosperity 
upon the abundance and cheapness of fuel, and if 
the price be increased by means of taxes the utility 
of the steam-engine will be greatly abridged." ^ 

1 Hansard's Parliamentary History, vol. xxiv, p. 121 5. 

2 On the Scotch Coal Trade, p. 197. 



444 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

Lord Karnes, Sir J. Sinclair, and Adam Smith 
were tlie most distinguished of the many writers 
who deplored the mischief wrought by the old 
taxes on sea-borne coal, in retarding the progress 
of towns and country places, where cheap coal 
might otherwise have been enjoyed. But it is 
impossible to describe adequately the all-per- 
vading bane that a general tax on coal would be. 
A rise in the price of coal, whether from taxation 
or scarcity, must levy open and insidious contribu- 
tions upon us in a manner with which no other 
tax whatever can compare. Sydney Smith de- 
scribed how a man in former days was taxed 
at every step from the cradle to the coffin. But 
through coals we shall be taxed in everything 
and at every moment. Our food will be taxed as 
it crosses the ocean, as it is landed by steam upon 
the wharf, as it is drawn away by the locomotive, 
as the corn is ground and the bread mixed and 
kneaded and baked by steam, and the meat is 
boiled and roasted by the kitchen fire. The 
bricks and mortar, the iron joists, the timber 
that is carried and sawn and planed by steam, 
will be taxed. The water that is pumped into 
our houses, and the sewage that is pumped away, 
and the gas that lights us in and out, will be 
taxed. Not an article of furniture or ornament, 



xvii TAXES AND NATIONAL DEBT 445 

not a thread of our clothes, not a carriage we 
drive in, nor a pair of shoes we walk in, but 
is partly made by coal and will be taxed with it. 

And most things will be taxed over and over 
again at each stage of manufacture. Materials 
will be burthened in the cost of steam-carriage, 
and the want of outward coal-freight — in their 
steam conveyance here — in the machinery that 
is to manufacture them — the engine to drive the 
machinery. At every step some tool, some sub- 
stance, some operation will suffer in cost from the 
use of taxed coal. 

A general coal-tax, too, would be subject to 
practical difficulties. Coals differ so much in 
kind and quality and size, that a uniform tax 
would be prohibitory of the use of small or 
inferior coals, and great quantities would be lost 
and burnt upon the waste heaps. An ad valorem 
duty, or one graduated to the size of the coal, 
would entail endless trouble and fraud. 

On coals for domestic use a tax would in theory 
be very desirable ; but it would entail a change 
of national habits among a people who look upon 
a cheerful fireside as one of the most pleasant 
things in life. It was really a tax on domestic 
consumption that Pitt proposed, for he intended 
to exempt all factories largely consuming coal. 



446 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

But to discriminate the coal used for different 
purposes would be a difficult or impossible task 
for the Inland Revenue department. 

A tax on coal-gas in domestic consumption 
might be most readily collected from the inspec- 
tion of the Gas Companies' books, and would be 
a beneficial tax in some ways. 

Little need be said of other possible modes of 
legislating with a view to saving coal. To oblige 
manufacturers to discard old wasteful engines 
and furnaces would be a wholly unjustifiable 
interference. It would destroy much property 
that is now profitable, and render necessary the 
investment of other capital now profitably en- 
gaged elsewhere. And in the building of new 
engines and furnaces individuals alone can judge 
properly what forms are most suitable for their 
purposes, and they are sure not to forget the 
profit to be derived from a reduced consumption 
of fuel. 

We could hardly prohibit the burning of duff 
and slack coal on the colliery heaps, seeing that 
if not lighted they will take fire by spontaneous 
combustion of the pyrites. To prohibit the 
screening of coal, again, would deprive many 
manufacturers of the cheap small coal which is 
essential to their business. And to attempt to 



XVII TAXES AND NATIONAL DEBT 447 

enforce economical modes of mining and work- 
ing coal, would be to interfere by legislation in 
the most uncertain of enterprises, where no 
rules can be laid down, but the individual cir- 
cumstances of each pit determine its mode of 
working. 

Nothing is more easy than to suggest that the 
Legislature should interfere to check the waste 
of coal so much wanted by posterity. But when 
we examine the several possible modes of inter- 
ference it will be found that they all break the 
principles of industrial freedom, to the recogni- 
tion of which, since the time of Adam Smith, we 
attribute so much of our success. Equal objec- 
tions can be urged against interference with 
internal industry, or external commerce. To 
tax home industry would strike more at the 
root of our industry ; a coal export duty would be 
less burdensome, but it would lay us open to 
the imputation of perfidy. The greater part of 
the world would regard any approach to a new 
restrictive system as the appropriate sequel to 
that cunning and successful course of commer- 
cial manoeuvre which they consider we have 
pursued since the time of Cromwell. It would 
seem that we have placed ourselves in a painful 
dilemma ; we must either retract the professions 



448 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

we have made to the world and the principles 
we have so recently adopted, or else we must 
submit to see our material resources exhausted 
in a shorter period than could have been thought 
possible. 

The only suggestion I can make towards com- 
pensating posterity for our present lavish use of 
cheap coal is one that it requires some boldness 
to make.^ I mean the reduction or paying off of 
the National Debt. It has long, indeed, become 
a fashion to talk of this as a chimerical notion. 
And on various pretexts, but really from " the 
ignorant impatience of taxation," we go on 
enduring this vast gap in the capital of the 
country. 

An annual appropriation towards the reduction 
of the debt would serve the three purposes of 
adding to the productive capital of the country, 
of slightly checking our present too rapid pro- 
gress, and of lessening the future difficulties of 
the country. 

If commenced without delay, and continued 
with perseverance, the vast debt, now nearly 
eight hundred millions sterling, might be 
easily reduced to inconsiderable dimensions 

1 Happily, this proposal no longer calls for exceptional boldness 
on the part of those who put it forward. 



XVII TAXES AND NATIONAL DEBT 449 

within that period now before us, which we 
must believe to comprise England's climax of 
prosperity.^ 

A most suitable and unobjectionable mode of 
effecting the payment presents itself It is well 
known that the legacy and succession duties are 
of a very improvident nature, because they yearly 
convert a portion of the property of the country 
into income, and expend it, instead of expending 
the annual interest only." The country, to the 
extent of about one-twentieth of its revenue,^ acts 

' The course of reduction of the National Debt since Jevons 
wrote, down to the Boer War, is traced in the following table, which 
also shows the amount of the increase drfe to the expenditure in 
South Africa. The method of reduction has not been that 
advocated by Jevons in the subsequent paragraphs, but these 
paragraphs embody points which make it worth while retaining 
them unaltered. The need of pressing forward with the redemp- 
tion of the National Debt is more urgent to-day than forty years 
ago, though the wealth of the nation is greater and the debt some- 
what less. 

National Debt of the United Kingdom 
(Funded and Unfunded) 
March 31st i, March 31st £ 

1864 819,677,852 1889 698,430,571 

1869 802,922,363 1894 666,154,294 

1874 776,017,783 1899 627,562,595 

r879 775,646,147 '9=4 794,498,ioo 

1884 746,423,964 1905 796,736,491 

2 J. S. Mill, Principles of Political Economy, 3rd ed., vol. ii, p. 455. 

3 Since the revision of the succession duties by the late Sir W. 
Harcourt, they have represented a larger fraction of the total 
national revenue. It is not so certain as is assumed in the text 
that succession duties operate to reduce capital or restrain its 
increase. In part they, like other taxes (cf. p. 452), are met out 
of revenue, and, further, out of revenue which would not have been 
capitalised were the duties not exacted. 

G G 



450 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

the part of a spendthrift in spending what it 
ought to invest, and trade upon, and transmit to 
its descendants for their similar use. 

Now this investment would be duly made by 
transferring the whole proceeds of the duty to 
the Commissioners for the Reduction of the 
National Debt, not allowing it to enter into the 
annual balance sheet of the Chancellor of the 
Exchequer. Of course it would be useless to do 
this unless the remaining revenue were main- 
tained at least equal to the expenditure. It 
would be absurd to pay debts on one hand and 
contract them on the other, in the manner of the 
old sinking fund. But such is the growing con- 
dition of our revenue, that the appropriation 
could easily be made, had we the patience to 
refrain for a very few years from those constant 
demands for the remission of taxes which are now 
become an unreasonable habit. After a very brief 
period remission of taxes might again go on, 
gradually accelerated by the reduction of the 
annual charge of the debt. 

At the present time we enjoy the rising tide of 
prosperity due to the unprecedented commercial 
reforms of the last twenty years. ^ Are we wise 

1 The reforms of 1842 and about twenty years following that date 
are referred to. 



XVII TAXES AND NATIONAL DEBT 451 

in pushing our present enjoyment to the extreme 
by remitting every penny of taxes we can pos- 
sibly spare ? And would not the present appro- 
priation of the legacy duty to a special purpose 
ensure us future remissions at a time when they 
will be grateful and useful in contributing to up- 
hold for a little longer a rate of progress which 
is now, if anything, too rapid ? 

It cannot be doubted that before long, if at 
all, an effort must be made to relieve the country 
of this burden. Writers of the i8th century 
entertained most gloomy anticipations concern- 
ing the growing debt, and they were only wrong 
in undervaluing the industrial revolution which 
was then proceeding. But now we run the risk 
of being too confident, and losing the grand 
opportunities we enjoy. It is growing wealth 
that makes a happy and prosperous country, 
and, no matter what be the absolute wealth of 
the country at a future time, it is idle to suppose 
that a popular government with a stationary 
revenue would ever impose new taxes to pay off 
an old debt. It is when a surplus revenue grows 
of its own accord, as at present, that we can 
alone expect a successful effort to be made. 

As a common pretext against any attempt to 
repay the National Debt it is said that we had 

G G 2 



452 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

better remit taxes instead, and " leave the money 
to fructify in the hands of the people." But 
this is wholly erroneous. Taxes are, partly at 
least, paid out of income which would otherwise 
be unproductively expended ; part only is sub- 
tracted from the fund of productive capital. But 
in investing the proceeds of a tax in Consols 
towards the reduction of the great debt, almost 
the whole money will be added to the productive 
capital of the country, and will be placed most 
certainly in the hands which will make it fructify 
in trade and industrial enterprises.-^ 

The present Chancellor of the Exchequer ^ has 
already devoted a good many millions of surplus 
revenue to the reduction of the debt, and has 
converted several millions more into terminable 
annuities. What is still better, he has often 
spoken of the debt in a manner which shows he 
would like to do more. Could a minister be 
found strong and bold enough to carry out a 



1 J. S. Mill, Principles of Political Economy, Book v, chap, vii, 

§3- 

^ The services of Mr. Gladstone, here referred to, in establishing 
a policy of debt reduction, desersre the encomiums of the latter part 
of the paragraph. The appreciation, by the Chancellor of the 
Exchequer of the year of grace 1905, of the obligation to make a 
beginning of reduction in the newly-augmented debt, was a feature 
which won him much commendation. This fact shows a notable 
and welcome change in public opinion in the last generation. 



XVII TAXES AND NATIONAL DEBT 453 

permanent and large measure towards the same 
end, he would have an almost unprecedented 
claim to gratitude and fame. And were the 
work once taken in hand, the notions that the 
payment of the debt is impossible, or Utopian, 
or undesirable, would quickly be dispersed. They 
are mere fallacies of habit. 

In regard to our present subject, we find, in 
the above proposed measure, a legitimate and 
practicable mode of giving some compensation 
to our posterity, who will undoubtedly suffer 
from an increased price of coal, the worst of 
taxes. 



CHAPTER XVIII 



CONCLUDING REFLECTIONS 



My work is completed in pointing out the 
necessary results of our present rapid multiplica- 
tion when brought into comparison with a fixed 
amount of material resources. The social and 
political consequences to ourselves and to the 
world of the partial exhaustion of our mines are 
of a far higher degree of uncertainty than the 
event itself, and cannot be made the subject of 
argument. But, feeling as we must feel, that they 
will be of an untoward character, it is impossible 
to conclude this work without a few remarks upon 
the truly solemn question — Are we wise in allow- 
ing the commerce of this country to rise beyond 
the point at which it can be long maintained ? 

To say the simple truth, will it not appear 
evident, soon after the final adoption of Free- 
trade principles, that our own resources are just 
those to which such principles ought to be applied 



CH. xvm CONCLUDING REFLECTIONS 455 

last and most cautiously ? To part in commerce 
with the surplus yearly interest of the soil may be 
unquestioned gain ; but to disperse so lavishly 
the cream of our mineral wealth is to be spend- 
thrifts of our capital — to part with that which can 
never be reproduced. 

After all, commerce is but the means to an end 
— the diffusion of civilisation and wealth. To 
allow commerce to expand until the source of 
civilisation is exhausted is like killing the goose 
to get the golden egg. Is the immediate creation 
of the greatest possible quantity of material wealth 
to be our only purpose ? Have we not hereditary 
possessions in our just laws, our free and nobly 
developed constitution, our rich literature and 
philosophy, incomparably above material wealth, 
and which we are beyond all things bound to 
maintain, improve, and hand down in safety to 
posterity ? And do we accomplish this duty in 
encouraging a growth of industry which must 
prove unstable, and perhaps involve all things in 
its fall ? 

But the more is said on one side of this per- 
plexing question, the more there is to say on the 
other side. It is easy to urge in reply that we 
can hardly separate the attributes and perform- 
ances of a kingdom, and have some results 



456 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

without the others. The resplendent Hterary 
genius of our Elizabethan age might never have 
been manifested but in a period equally con- 
spicuous for good legislation, industrial progress, 
and general enterprise. The early Hanoverian 
period, on the contrary, was as devoid of intellectual 
nobility as it was stationary in wealth and popula- 
tion. A clear and vigorous mind is to be looked 
for in a wholesome and vigorous state of the body. 
Mens Sana in corpore sano. So in our Victorian 
age may we not owe indirectly to the lavish 
expenditure of our material energy far more than 
we can readily conceive ? No part, no function 
of a nation is independent of the rest, and it is 
possible that in fearlessly following our instincts 
of rapid growth we may rear a fabric of varied 
civilisation, we may develop talents and virtues, 
and propagate influences which could never have 
resulted from slow restrained growth however 
prolonged. 

Surely the wish could never rise into the mind 
of any Englishman that Britain should be 
stationary and lasting as she was, rather than of 
growing and world-wide influence as she is. To 
secure a safe smallness we should have to go 
back, and strangle in their birth thoseuthoughts 
and inventions which redeemed us from dulness 



XVIII CONCLUDING REFLECTIONS 457 

and degeneration a century ago. Could we 
desire that Savery and Newcomen had aban- 
doned their tiresome engines ; that Darby had 
slept before the iron ran forth ; that the Duke 
had broken before Brindley completed his canal ; 
that Watt had kept to his compasses and rules ; 
or that Adam Smith had burnt his manuscript in 
despair ? Such experiments could not succeed, 
and such writings be published among a free and 
active people in our circumstances, without lead- 
ing to the changes that have been. Thence 
necessarily came the growth of manufactures and 
of population ; thence the inexplicable power with 
which we fought and saved the Continent ; 
thence the initiation of a Free-trade policy by 
Pitt ; the growth of a middle class ; and the rise 
of a series of statesmen — Canning, Huskisson, 
Peel, Cobden, and Gladstone — to represent their 
views and powers. 

Our new industry had an obscure and un- 
regarded commencement ; it is great already 
and will be far greater yet before it is less. It is 
questionable whether a country in any sense free 
can suffer such a grand movement to begin with- 
out suffering it to proceed its own length. One 
invention, one art, one development of commerce, 
one amelioration of society, follows another almost 



458 THE COAL QUESTION chap. 

as effect follows cause. And perhaps it is well 
that our national conduct is not prompted by our 
narrow wisdom nor our selfish desires. Let us 
stretch our knowledge and our foresight to the 
furthest, yet we act by powers and towards ends 
of which we are scarcely conscious. 

In our contributions to the arts, for instance, 
we have unintentionally done a work that will 
endure for ever. In whatever part of the world 
fuel exists, whether wood, or peat, or coal, we 
have rendered it the possible basis of a new 
civilisation. In the ancient mythology, fire was 
a stolen gift from heaven ; but it is our country- 
men who have really shown the powers of fire, 
and conferred a second Promethean gift upon the 
world. Without undue self-gratulation, we may 
say in the words of Bacon — " The introduction of 
new inventions seemeth to be the very chief of 
all human actions. The benefits of new inven- 
tions may extend to all mankind universally, 
but the good of political achievements can respect 
but some particular cantons of men ; these latter 
do not endure above a few ages, the former for 
ever. Inventions make all men happy without 
either injury or damage to any one single person. 
Furthermore, new inventions are, as it were, new 
erections and imitations of God's own works." 



XVIII CONCLUDING REFLECTIONS 459 

When our main-spring is here run down, our 
fires burnt out, may we not look for an increasing 
flame of civiHsation elsewhere ? Ours are not the 
only stores of fuel. Britain may contract to her 
former littleness, and her people be again 
distinguished for homely and hardy virtues, for a 
clear intellect and a regard for law, rather than 
for brilliant accomplishments and indomitable 
power. But our name and race, our language, 
history, and literature, our love of freedom and 
our instincts of self-government, will live in a 
world-wide sphere. We have already planted 
the stocks of multiplying nations in most parts of 
the earth, and, in spite of some discouraging 
tendencies, it is not to be doubted that they will 
prove a noble offspring. 

The alternatives before us are simple. Our 
empire and race already comprise one-fifth ^ of 
the world's population ; and by our plantation of 
new States, by our guardianship of the seas, by 
our penetrating commerce, by the example of 
our just laws and firm constitution, and above all 
by the dissemination of our new arts, we stimulate 
the progress of mankind in a degree not to be 
measured. If we lavishly and boldly push for- 
ward in the creation of our riches, both material 

^ In 1905 fully one-fourth. 



46o THE COAL QUESTION ch. xviii 

and intellectual, it is hard to over-estimate the 
pitch of beneficial influence to which we may- 
attain in the present. But the maintenance of 
such a position is physically impossible. We have 
to make the m.omentous choice between brief but 
true greatness and longer continued mediocrity. 



INDEX 



Ages of emigrants, 229 

Agriculture, changes in, 240-242 ; 
exhaustive, 424 

Agricultural population, 208 ; de- 
crease of, 243 ; implements, 243 

Air-engine, 150 

Alabama iron manufacture, 402, 
408 

Albion mills, 129 

American enterprise, xxxvi, 406 

America, North, coalfields, 338-9 ; 
high wages in, 408 

Anthracite coal, Pennsylvania, 339, 

347 
Appalachian coalfield, 339-40 
Arid region in the United States, 

42s 
Arithmetic rate of increase, 247 
Armstrong, Sir Wm., 198; address 

to British Association, 3, 32 ; 

Coal Commission of 1871, 147 ; 

hydraulic apparatus, 172, 177 
Atmospheric engine, 1 19, 143 
Austen Godwin, Mr., quoted, 52 
Australia, coal resources of, 356 
Australian coal competing with 

British, 292, 333 

Babbage quoted, 143, 189 
Bachelors, increase of, 225-6 
Backbarrow charcoal blast-furnace, 

370 
Back-carriage, 292-301 
Bacon, Francis and Roger, loi, 102 
Bacon, on Invention, 458 
Bald, Robert, 16, 105, 443 
Ballast, coal as, 292, 299, 306, 

309 ; freights, 314, 329 ; wharves 

on Tyne, 297 
Balloons, 169 



Banfield on Organisation of Labour, 

241 
Beaumont, inventor of railway, 123 
Belgium, coal production, 336, 

365 ; iron production, 399 
Bessemer steel, 130, 389, 398, 401 
Birmingham, artisans at, 118 
Bituminous coal of Pennsylvania, 

348, 408 
" Blackmine " coal seam, 89 
Blast-furnace, fuel of, 345 ; waste 

gases of, 155, 389 
Bloomary, 245 
Bourne, quoted, xxxv 
Boyd Dawkins, Professor, 53 
Bramah, 173 
Briavoinne, quoted, 119 
Bridgewater, Duke of, 121 ; canal, 

122, 169 ; treatise, 16 
Brindley, 129, 143, 168 
British coal-production, 265, 266, 

365-7 ; Empire, resources of, 

xvii, 364 ; industry, two periods 

of, 234 ; ports, tonnage of, 258, 

301 ; steam-vessels, 254 
Brough, Mr. Bennett H., xv, 352, 

359, 361, 363, 370 
Buckland, Dr., 16, 1 8, 19, 45, 298, 

437 
Bulwer, Caxtonian essays, 13 
Bunker-coal, viii, 139, 319 

Camden, quoted, 372 
Campbell's Survey, quoted, no 
Campine, La, coalfields, 336 
Canada, coalfields of, 353-S ; coal 

production of, 356 ; migration 

to, 227, 427 
Canals, 121 
Cannel coal, xliii 



462 



INDEX 



Cape Breton coal, 330, 353 

Cardiff, price of coal at, 91 

Cargo, preponderance of home- 
ward, 301, 315 

Caus, Isaac de, 115; Solomon de, 
114 

Charcoal iron manufacture, 245, 
345. 370-80 

Cheap fuel', its effects, xxxv 

Chemical processes and coal, 134-5 

Cheshire salt mines, 134 

China, coal in, 361 

Clyde, outward cargoes from the, 
304 

Coal consumption in the United 
Kingdom, 192 ; estimates of coal 
produced, 264, 267, 268 ; esti- 
mates of coal resources of United 
Kingdom, 38-9 ; export duty, 
313; exports, value of, 91 ; ex- 
ported in 1869 and 1903, 139 ; 
importance of, xxxiv, i ; loss in 
working, 47, 48 ; produced in the 
United Kingdom, 265, 266, 365- 
7 ; in different countries, 322, 
365 ; raised in France, 335, 365- 
7 ; raised in Germany, 337, 365- 
7 ; raised in the United States, 
339i 352) 365-7 ; rate of increase 
of consumption, xiii, xx, 268-9, 
280-1, 365 ; resources of various 
countries, 320, 323, 325 ; specific 
gravity of, 40 ; under the sea, 
39, 49 ; used in iron-making, 

139, 369 
Coalbrookdale coalfield, 26; works, 
123, 176, 384; engine at, 129; 
iron bridge at, 1 27 
Coal-cutting machine, 66, 76 
Coalfields, Appalachian, 339-40 ; 
Belgian, 337 ; beneath cretaceous 
formation, ^2; Chinese, 361 ; 
concealed, 50-55 ; contents of 
British, 24, 38 ; Fifeshire, 16 ; 
Flintshire, 26 ; Forest of Dean, 
46, 49 ; foreign, 323, 325 ; 
French, 44, 328, 331 ; German, 
326, 337; Japanese, 359; Lan- 
cashire, 44 ; Newcastle, 17, 42, 
46 ; ninety-fathom dyke, 44-5 ; 
New South Wales, 357 ; North 
America, 338-9 ; Nova Scotia, 
353; Scotch, 17, 27, 43 ; Staf- 
fordshire, 26 ; Yorkshire, 49, 
50 



Coal miners, numbers of, 277 
Coal ports, freights to, 305, 307 
Coal-tax, impolicy of, 310, 440-5 
Coal-towns, Northern, growth of,, 

217 
Coal trade reciprocal, 295 
Coasting trade, 295-6 ; in coal, 

296 
Coke, invention of, 382 
Collier, meaning of name, 371 
Collier fleet of Newcastle, 309,. 

310 
Collieries, number of, 32, 278 
Colliery-consumption of coal, 49 
Colliery, staff of a, 64-5 
Colonisation, 219-21, 421, 423 
Colorado, coal of, 350 
Commercial revolution, 232 
Competition, of foreign coal, 292,. 

307, 317 ; in foreign trade, 414 
Compressed air as motive power, 

173 
Consumption of coal, 196, 270, 

272 ; in 1869 and in 1903, 139 ;. 

in past times, 271, 273 
Conybeare and Phillips, Outlines 

of Geology, 37 
Cornish engines, xxxv ; duty of, 146 ; 

supply of coal, 295 
Corn, imports and exports of, 238 ;. 

laws, 237, 241, 256 ; repeal of, 

195 ; trade, 236 
Cort, puddling furnace, 387 
Cost of getting coal, average, 343 
Cotton imports and consumption, 

251 ; trade, 236 
Courtney, Rt. Hon. Leonard, 91 
Cretan laws, xlvi 
Crossley, Mr. W. J., on economy of 

gas engines, 152 
Crow's Nest Pass Coalfield, 354 

Darby, Abraham, 176, 384 
Dawson, Dr. G. M., on coal re- 
sources of Canada, 355 
Dee river, power of tides, 179 
Deep mining, limit of, xxxvii, 7, 57, 

61-3 
Depth of mines, 58-9, 274 ; in the 

United States, 342 
Domestic consumption of coal, 138, 

139 
Dover, coal at, 54 
Dowlais ironworks, 165 
Drainage of mines, 68-72, 113 



INDEX 



463 



Drake, Mr. N. F., on Chinese coal 
resources, 361 

Dudley, Dud, quoted, 81 ; iron made 
by, 382 

Dukinfield deep pit, xxxvii, 58, 89 

Dundonald, Earl of, on salt trade, 
302 

Duration of Northern coalfield esti- 
mates, 18 ; of coalfields of Europe, 
362-3 

Dutch in England, 107 ; manu- 
factures, III ; manufacture of 
iron, 381 ; trade, 109 ; workmen, 

384 
Dynamo-electric machine, 181 

Earthenware trade, 303 
Ebbw Vale ironworks, 248 
Economy of use increases consump- 
tion, xxxiv, 141, 142 
Edgeworth, Richard Lovell, 167 
Education, public, xxii, xlviii 
Efficiency of steam-engine, 145-7 > 

of gas-engine, 152 
Electricity, 160, 170 
Electro-magnetic engine, 180 
Emigration, 10, 220, 420 ; direction 

of, 227 ; effects of, 221, 230, 

424 
Employment of children in factories, 

xxii, xlviii 
Energy, 161 ; developed in burning 

coal, 137, 1S6 
English coalfields, 329, 331-2 
Ericsson's engine, 150 
Exhaustion ol European coalfields, 

362 ; of our coal mines, xxix 
Export duties, 313 ; influence on 

freights, 440 ; instances of, 135, 

139 ; policy of, 438 
Exports, declared value of, 1801- 

190S, 25s ; of coal, 313, 318-9, 

418 ; value per ton, 91 ; net from 

various countries, 333 ; policy of, 

312 ; weight of, 315 
Exports of machinery, prohibition 

of, 104 

Fairbaim, 128, 411 ; address to 

British Association, 131, 153 
Flemings, 109, III 
Foot-blast, 371 
Forest of Dean, 49, 371, 378 
Forests, source of fuel, 183 



Freeh, on duration of coal supplies, 
362 

Free trade, 286, 314, 410, 431, 
434. 455 

Freight rates, 306-7 ; eflfect of ex- 
port duty on, 440 ; on coal in the 
United States, 99 ; Odessa and 
Argentina to England, 299 

French coal imports, 314; coal 
production, 335, 365-7 ; iron pro- 
duction, 399 ; manufactures, m ; 
Treaty of i860, 5, 182, 439, 441 

Friar's Goose Colliery, 71 

Fuel gas, 151 

Future probable consumption 
coal, 270, 282 

Garforth, Mr. W. E., on coal-cut- 
ting machines, 66 

Gas, 127-8; engine, 151-2 ; natural, 
185; tax on, 446; works, coal 
used by, 139 

Gee, Joshua, on British iron trade, 

379 
Geological map, 45 
Geometrical rado, growth in, 192-4, 

245 

Georges Creek, 351 

German metallurgists, 381 ; miners, 
104 

Germany, coal production of, 337, 
365-7 ; coal resources of, xiv, 
326 ; industrial progress of, xv, 
326, 416 ; iron production of, 367, 

399 
Gilchrist-Thomas, basicsteel, 390-1, 

400 
Gladstone, Rt. Hon. W. E., 288, 

441, 452 
Griffith, Mr. Wm., estimate of coal 

in Pennsylvania, 348 
Grimsby, Port of, 306 
Gunpowder use in blasting, 105 

Hall, T. Y., 19, 299 
Harris, Mr. , on anthracite coal out- 
put, 346 
Harrison chronometer, 113 
Harvest of wheat, British, 240 
Haswell pit, sinking abandoned, 

Hearn's Plutology, 168, 197 
Heat, source of, 182; effect of, on 

working power, 61 
Herring fishery, 109 



464 



INDEX 



Herschel, Sir John, xxxix 

Hewitt, Statistics of Iron Trade, 

379. 434 „ 
Hilton ware, 384 
Hogge, Ralph, Sussex ironmaster, 

107 
Holland, John, History of Fossil 

Fuel, 20 
Hooson, quoted, 105 
Horse-power, coal used per, 138, 

145-8 ; used in factories, 177 
Hot-blast iron furnace, 154, 387 
Hot springs of Ischia, 189 ; of 

Iceland, 189 
Houghton, John, quoted, 380, 421 
Hull, Edward, xlv, 7, 19, 23-31, 

42, 47, 50, 57, 270 
Hunt, Mr. Robert, cannel coal 

supply, xliii ; prices of coal in 

i860, 87 ; statistics of output, 

xlii, 34, 265 
Hutton seam, 70, 89 
Hydrogen gas, 182 

Ice machine, 136 
Iceland, hot springs ot, 189 
Immigration into the U.S., 227-9 
Import-duty on coal, Russian, 299 
Imports, official values, 1700-1869, 
252-3 ; real values, 1854-1905, 
254 ; of continental iron, 379 ; of 
coal impossible on a large scale, 
290, 317 ; weight of, 315 
Inheritances, tax on, 449 
Internal combustion engines, 151 
International trade, 413 
Inventions, 197 ; Bacon on, 458 ; 
conditions of, 112; history of, 100 
Ireland, absence of manufactures, 
28S ; devoid of coal, 202 ; emigra- 
tion from, 203, 211, 220; former 
production of iron, 376 ; policy, 
203 
Iron, boundless use of, 405 ; bridges, 
127 ; export of pig, 247 ; impor- 
tance, 368 ; in America, 406 ; in 
Scotland, 386, 388 ; in 1740, 
379 ; in 1862, 397 ; in 1904, 
399 ; increase of produce, 386, 
400; made with pit coal, 381-5 ; 
manufacture, conditions of, 391, 
408 ; ore carried to fuel, 396 ; 
ore supplies, 403-4 ; production 
of, 246, 367 ; quality of, 398 ; 
rails first used, 123; steam vessels. 



132 ; steel substituted for iron, 
130, 390; substitution of iron for 
wood, 129, 390 ; supply from dis- 
tance, 393 ; used in machinery, 
128 ; wrought iron substituted for 
cast, 129 
Iron and steel industries, coal used 
by, 139. 140, 369 

Japan, coal resources, 359 ; coal 
production, 359 ; competition of, 
with British coal, 292, 333 

Jeans, J. S., on iron-ore supplies, 

403-4 
Jessop, William, 124 
Jocteleg, or jack-a-legs knife, 106 

Kaltoff, Marquis of Worcester's 

servant, 116 
Kane, Sir Robert, 179, 184 
Kelvin, Lord, on fuel supply, 189 

Labelye, Swiss architect, 107 
Laird, Sir Wm. , on coal export from 

Liverpool, 305 
Lake Superior iron-ore trade, 308, 

401, 407 
Lanarkshire, exhaustion of coal in, 

27 
Lancashire, East, coal shipped from, 

305 ; coal from thin seams in, 

74 

Lardner, Dr., on discovery, 159 

Lee, William, inventor of knitting- 
frame, 103 

Legacy duty, 449 

Liebig, 142, 163 ; criticism of 
Bacon, 102 ; on electro-magnetic 
engine, 181 ; on sulphur produc- 
tion, 135 

Lignite produced in Germany, 337. 

Lincolnshire fens, drainage of, 178. 

Liverpool, Port of, 257 ; expor 
trade, 302, 304 

Locke, remark on iron, 131 

Lombard Street, merchants of, no 

Lombe, Sir Thomas, H2 

London, coal imported, 263 ; popu- 
lation of, 218 

Lothringen, iron ores of, 391 

Loze, estimate of coalfields, 323 

McCuUoch, 18, 22, 264, 267, 268 

386 
Machine tools, 130 



INDEX 



465 



Mackworth, Sir Humphrey, 167 
Magnesian limestone, 5' 
Malthus, law of population, 194-5 
Manufacturing population, 215 
Maritime enterprise, 108 
Marriage-rate, xxxii, 10, 223-4 
Mathews, Mr. Wm., quoted, 7.8 
Maximum estimated output of 

anthracite in United States, 346 ; 

of coal in Great Britain, 31 
Mersey, coal shipped from, 305 
Mesabi iron ores, 401 
Metallurgy, 105 
Meurthe et Moselle, discovery of 

coal in, 335 
Migration into towns, 212 
Mill, J. S., on international trade, 

414 ; on National Debt, xxxix ; 

on Protection, 433 
Mine- workers, classes of, 64-5 
Mineral statistics, 5, 264 
Mining Record Office, xliv, 23, 265 
Monkwearmouth pit, depth of, 57 ; 

sinking of, xxxvii ; temperature 

in, 58 
Morrill tariff, 247, 430, 435 
Mundella, 142, 267 
Murton winning, sinking of, 69 

Nanaimo coal basin, 355 

Nasse, estimates of coal resources, 

324-S 
National Debt, xxii, xxxix, 448-9 
Neilson, discoverer of hot-blast, 387 
New River, London water supply, 

127 
Newcastle coalfield, 17 ; duration 

of, 18; output of, 18, 19; price 

of coal at, 83-5 ; Vend of coal 

from, vii, 262 
Newcomen's engine, 1 19, 143 
New South Wales, coal production, 

358 ; coal resources, 356 
Norden, Surveyor^ Dialo^e, 372, 

380 
Nova Scotia, coal resources, 354 ; 

iron-ore in, 35S 

Overstone, Lord, on export duty, 
439 

Packhorse conveyance, 292, 303, 

396 

Papin, Denis, 118, 173 
Parties, conflict of, 12, 13 



Pauperism, cost of, 209 

Peat, 184 

Peel, Sir Robert, proposed tax on 
coal, 1842, 299, 438 

Pennsylvania, coal of, 339, 408 ; 
iron manufacture of, 402 

Percy, Dr., 36, 105, 182, 405 

Permian formation, 52 

Petroleum, 184-5 

Pit coal, 371 

Pitt's proposed tax on coal, 442 

Pittman, E. F, , on coal in New 
South Wales, 356 

Pittsburg coal seam, 341 ; steel 
manufacture, 402, 428 

Piatt and Co. of Oldham, 128 

Platte, Hugh, 114 

Population, decrease of agricultural, 
243 ; of agricultural counties, 
208, 243 ; of England and Wales, 
205 ; of manufacturing counties, 
208; of Scotch highlands, 211, 
423 ; of Scotch manufacturing 
counties, 212; increase of, 192, 
203 ; law of, 9, 192-5 

Porter, quoted, 133 ; on the poor- 
rate, 210 

Postlethwayt, quoted, 375, 380 

Potash, supply of, 135 

Potteries, situation of, 304 

Pressure, effects of increase of, in 
steam-engines, 149 

Price of coal at Baltimore, 98 ; at 
Cardiff, 91, 93 ; at Newcastle, 
83-5, 290 ; at Pittsburg, 343 ; at 
the pit's mouth, 95, 97, 98, 343 ; 
exported, 91, 95; in different 
countries, 97, 98, 343 ; in i860, 
Mr. Hunt, 87 ; in Manchester, 
1760, 122 ; in New South Wales, 
357 ; in Staffordshire, 81, 96 ; 
reduced by steam-engine, 120 

Price- Williams, Mr. R., on future 
output, x, 279 

Producer-gas, 151 

Progress, when uniform, 191-3 

Production of coal, 1855-1904, 280 ; 
in various countries, 365 

Prohibition of export, of coal, 312 ; 
of machinery, 104 

Protection, 433 ; in colonies, 430 

Proximity of fuel and iron ore, 391, 
397, 401. 408 

Queensland, coal in, 356 

H H 



466 



INDEX 



Railways, 122 ; coal used by, 139 ; 
converge on coalfields, 125 ; in- 
fluence on iron manufacture, 
407 ; rates on return traffic, 294 

Ramsay, Professor, 45 

Rankine, 148 

Rate of progress, 191, 245 

Regenerative furnace, 154 

Rennie, 129, 178 

Resources of British coalfields, 24 

Restrictions on coal trade, 446-7 

Reversal of trades, 134, 286-7 

Rickman on increase of population, 
213 

Roaas, 120 

Roebuck, iron trade in Scotland, 
386 

Rogers, Professor, estimate of coal- 
fields, 323 ; on coal-cutting 
machine, 66 

Rouher, M., quoted, 289 

Royal Commission, coal-cutting 
machines, 66 ; consumption of 
coal in the past, 271 ; consump- 
tion of coal per horse-power, 147 ; 
deduction for loss in working, 
48 ; effect of pressure on work- 
ing of mines, 62 ; estimate of 
resources, xv, 24, 38-9 ; on 
working thin seams, 42, 73, 76 ; 
petroleum as a fuel, 185 ; purposes 
for which coal is used, 139 ; rate 
of increase of output, xiii ; 
water-powers available in Great 
Britain, 171 ; windmills, 165 

Runcorn, coal staiths, 305 

Safety lamp, 67 

Salt trade reversed, 1 34 ; of Liver- 
pool, 302 

Sanderson, Dr. J. Burdon, on 
working in hot mine, 61 

Sauerbeck's Index Number com- 
pared with price of coal, 91 

Savery, Thomas, 115, 117, 143, 

175 
Scheldt, coal under mouth of, 336 
Schladebach deep boring, 59 
Scotland, its population and in- 
dustry, 204 
Screening of coal, 86-7, 446 
Scrivenor, History of Iron Trade^ 

384. 393 
Sea-coal, 371, 374 
Seaport towns, growth of, 214 



Senior on emigration, 423 

Shansi coalfields, 361 

Shipment of coal, 329 

Shipping, tonnage entering and 
clearing, 258 ; with cargoes and 
in ballast, 301 

Shropshire coal production, 27 

Sicilian tax on sulphur, 135, 439 

Siemens regenerative furnace, 154 

Simmersbach, on coal resources of 
the world, xiv, 325, 363 

Sinclair, Sir John, Statistical Ac- 
count of Scotland^ 15 

Slitting mill, 107 

Smeaton, 1 19, 143, 387 

Smelting furnace, birthplace of, 
123 

Smiles, history of invention, 102, 
107, 382 

Sopwith, Mr. T., xliv, xlv, 21, 
265 

Soulh Hetton colliery, 64 

Spinsters, increase of, 225-6 

Staffordshire, potteries, 304 ; South, 
coalfield, 27, 28 ; drainage of 
mines, 71 ; iron manufacture, 77, 
393-S ; "thick" coal of, 342; 
price of " thick " coal, 80-1 

Stationary state, xxxi, 232, 429 

Steam colliers, 166 ; communica- 
tion, 165-6 

Steam-engine, 112, 120; coal con- 
sumed per horse-power, 144 ; 
effect of improvements in, 153 ; 
effect on mines, 120 ; exported, 
119; history of, 143; improve- 
ment of, 144 ; used to increase 
water-power, 175, 385 

Steam-plough, 153 

Steam-power, cost of, xxxiv ; used 
in textile factories, 177 

Steam vessels, and sailing ships, 
133 ; maintained on British coal, 
316; tonnage of British, 259 

Steel, made at Pittsburg, 409 ; sub- 
stituted for iron, 130, 390 

Stephenson, George, 17, 67, 126 ; 
Robert, 132 

Sterling's air-engine, 150 

Stevin, Simon, wind-waggon, 167 

Sturtevant, 103, 381 

Substitution of commodities, 134 

Succession duties, 449 

Sulphur, sources of, 135 

Sun-engine, 190 



INDEX 



467 



Sussex ironworks, 372, 395 
Swansea, copper smelting, 295 
Sydney harbour, coal at, 330, 358 

Tax on coal, 310, 441 
Temperature of mines, S9~6i 
Temple, Sir Wm., on iron-making 

in Ireland, 376 
The Trades' Increase, quoted, 109, 

309 
Thin seams, working of, 72-6 
Thomas and Gilchrist, steel mak- 
ing. 390. 400 
Thomas, Mr. D. A. , on our foreign 

trade in coal, 314, 332-3 
Tidal mills, 180 

Timber, as fuel, 183 ; destruction 
of, 374-8 ; quantity imported, 
250 
Tonnage of British ports, 25S, 301 
Trading bodies, problem of, 410 
Transport of coal, 289-90, 328 
Tyndall, Professor, quoted, xl- 
xlii 

United States, coal exports from, 
317 ; coal production in, 339, 
352, 365-7 ; coal resources of, 
338-51 ; immigration, 229 ; iron 
production, 367, 399 ; popula- 
tion, 426 ; resources of, 344 ; steel 
industry, 428 

Utilisation of waste heat, 155 

Vancouver Island, coal in, 355 
Vend, from Newcastle, vii, 262 ; 

limitation of the, 86 
Ventilation of coal mines, 61, 68 
Victoria, coal resources of, 356 



Vivian, H. H., xxiv, xxxvi, xxxvii, 
276 

Wages, high in America, 408 
Wales, South, coalfield, 17, 24, 38 
Wallsend coal prices, 88 
Waste gases of blast-furnace, 155, 

389 

Waste of coal, 266, 272 
Water, accumulation of, in Permian 
and New Red Sandstone rocks, 

52. 72 

Water, -mills, 129; -power, 119, 
171-4 ; effect on iron-making, 
372, 385, 386 ; -supply of towns, 
177 ; supply-pipes, 127 

Watt, 144, 146, 153, 187 

West Ardsley CoUiery, 66 

Welds of Sussex, 371, 374 

Wheat, and coal, exchange of, 308 ; 
British harvest of, 240 ; imports 
and exports of, 238 

Whitaker, Mr. W., quoted, 53 

Williams, John, 15 

Williamson, Mr., on weight of im- 
ports and exports, 315 

Willoughby, Sir Francis, 293 

Windmills, 108, 164-5 

Wind-waggons, 167 

Wooden water pipes, 127 

Wool trade, 235 

Woolfs double cylinder, 144 

Worcester, Marquis of, 115, 116, 

174-S 
World's coal production, viii, 365-6; 
iron production, 399 

Yarranton, 79, 112, 121, 383 
Young, John, millwright, lo8 



THE END 



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